Here in California one of the propositions (Same as a referendum, something they have tons of here in the USA) that is generating the most discussion is Proposition 8. This is a proposition to ban gay marriage. It gets confusing since if you are for gay marriage you should vote no to proposition 8 (Since gay marriage is already legal in the state of California). I've discussed this quite a lot with some friends around here and the more I think of it the more I think that marriage simply shouldn't be anything that government should care about at all.
Why not simply have government not care at all whether you are married or not. Instead of having a bunch of laws that change how you are taxed, what kind of benefits you can use when married and what happens when you dissolve it why not make the marriage itself simply be a contract you sign in the same as if you were forming a business venture with someone. This contract would simply relate how to resolve conflicts during the marriage (And specifically when you want to dissolve the partnership and get a divorce).
In regards to the benefits you get today, instead of having them being tied to being married make them tied to the actual situation that you want to help out with. Examples of this would be to increase subsidies for having children or giving tax breaks when people share a place to live. Religions would still get to decide whatever they want to endorse as calling a marriage, but whether or not the marriage is sponsored by your religion of choice wouldn't in any way influence what the government treats you.
I'll just go through some arguments I've heard against it. First of all the obvious that this would make more people get a divorce. My answer to that is that if the only reason a couple doesn't get a divorce is that they can't deal with the paperwork they probably should have gotten a divorce regardless.
Another argument against it is that if you allow gay marriage, what's next polygamy? I have to say that as long as it is amongst consenting adults I have no problem with that either. The only unions I have problems with are the ones where one of the participants are not consenting adults (Children are out) or if there are medical reasons (So no brothers and sisters).
Finally I've heard the reason that it is hard for parents to explain to their children why some of their class mates have two fathers or two mothers. My only comment to this is that this is a problem they already have regardless of if gay marriage is legal or not. Gay people will not stop being gay just because they can or can't get married. If that was the case there wouldn't have been any gay people until the last couple of years and even now in very few places in the world.
Off course all of this is just a pipe dream and it will never get to pass sine the norm is still that people get married and why would a privileged majority ever give up privileges they already have in a democracy. It is unfortunately not the way the world works.