I have been wanting for some time to produce a post on the 'gay marriage' thing, and today I see that James Preece has written (in his characteristically more direct language) more or less what I wanted to say, and with great thoroughness.
In brief, the problem is not that gay people want to get married; it is that they don't want to get married. What they want is an opportunity to celebrate their relationship in a public and enjoyable way, and have it recognized as equally valuable to a similar heterosexual relationship.
In one sense, they have a point, because most heterosexual relationships are not, except in a rather general sense, marriages. Marriage involves all sorts of things, fidelity, chastity (in the strict sense of the word), sacrificial love, openness to children, permanence: it is a lot more than a public celebration of an affectionate and possibly (increasingly, probably) temporary sexual relationship.
The troubles suffered by Blondpidge (here and here) at the moment for a short while shook my resolve on the subject of artificial contraception. But the gay marriage thing has strengthened it again, and much more powerfully.
The difficulty is that the battle for marriage was all-but lost for society not with civil partnerships or the forthcoming (and pretty well sure to happen) resolution on gay marriage. Rather, it was when purely recreational sex became first possible and then socially acceptable. And for the vast majority of people (including so many Catholics) anything else would be unthinkable.
And what do we do about it? Find another name for what we believe marriage to be? 'The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony', perhaps? And what if, as seems to be happening in certain of the United States, we come to be required to officiate at these ceremonies in our churches? And don't say it won't happen, because there are people who are very determined that it will.
I guess all we could do is to suspend the requirement for Catholics to marry in church (it isn't required by Divine law); let them go to the registry office, and then come to the church for a nuptial Mass and blessing. Then we simply say to all comers, of whatever sexuality 'we don't do marriages here'.
What a sad state of affairs.
But please don't simply let it happen without at least making a token resistance; it is really important to sign this petition arranged by the Coalition for Marriage.