Quote Originally Posted by Ptichka View Post
That used to be my opinion. However, like it or not, the institution of marriage is good for the society. Makes guys more responsible and all that. So from a purely public policy point of view, you still want to have government involved. Oh, and marriage is sill tightly coupled with adoption rights - married couples generally find it easier to adopt then singles, for obvious reasons. So you take the government out of it - and you're leaving all the atheists screwed. Of course you can always do what Israel does - they don't have non-religious marriages, so either you find a registered rabbi/imam/priest/etc. to perform the ceremony, or you do what non-affiliated do and go get married on Cyprus
When I started reading your comment, I was about to cite Israel, and then you did. Yes, I don't think we would do very well in the U.S. if marriage were only a religious institution. In Israel, many Jews can't get approval to be married because the rabbis in charge of such things don't recognize certain Jewish denominations.

What is separate in the U.S., and should be, is that no religious institution can be forced to perform a ceremony that is against its doctrine. Even if gay marriage is legal, no cathedral will be forced to hold a wedding between two men or two women. The government has no power to compel such a thing, just as it cannot now force the Catholic church to recognize a civil divorce and subsequent remarriage, and it can't compel an Orthodox Jewish husband to grant a get (sort of a divorce consent) to a wife petitioning for divorce.