The question seems to be, who defines what marriage is and who may enter into it? That issue has become clouded because early government tried to do us all a favor and wound up biting us on the proverbial ass instead. They said,
“Look, you are going to have to get married in a church by a clergyman to satisfy your religion, and in a courthouse by a bureaucrat to satisfy the law. That means you have to do two ceremonies, and for each ceremony you have to certify that you either have done or will do the other ceremony. If you do one ceremony without the other you will have created chaos and everybody will be horribly confused about your status and won’t know what to call you.
If you’re not religions you can just do the one ceremony in the courthouse and the law will consider you married. Religious people will consider you sinners or whatever, but you don’t care about that, because pretending to be married is far from the worst thing that they think you are doing and none of that has been bothering you. No, people skipping the religious ceremony is not the issue here.
It’s people who consider the religious ceremony important we’re concerned about, because they have to go through two completely separate ceremonies, and that is something of a burden. So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to appoint the leaders of churches as deputies to create legal marriages, so that when they do it in a church they are creating both the church marriage and the legal marriage at the same time.”
Brilliant. Just a little extra paperwork in an office after the ceremony and everybody has saved some time. You can get married in the courthouse or, if you are religious you can get married in your church and your clergyman can file the legal documentation for you.
Well, no it hasn’t saved time, because some jackass decides that if a couple doesn’t meet his definition of religious marriage in his church, therefore they should not meet your definition of religious marriage in your church and they should not qualify for legal marriage in the courthouse.
Sounds kind of stupid when you put it that way, doesn’t it?