First of all no need to apologize; it’s the nature of blogs (and email and texts, etc.) to make people sound harsher than they are. I really don’t get offended very easily; negative comments mostly make me curious as to why other people don’t think I’m as smart as I think I am. I’m obviously the most brilliant person alive, if only the rest of the world would realize it and hand me the reins of power. (Or the rains of power, I’ll take whatever, I’m not fussy.)
Let me respond to your comments one at a time:
You said “I don't think that anyone is arguing that gay people want marriage rights so that they can bring down the institution of marriage from the inside out…” Actually there are some people who believe exactly this. Most Church members are not this extreme, but some are. And there are some non-LDS groups that we were allied with that do believe this view, or similar ones (i.e. there is a great gay conspiracy attempting to trick us all to hell, or other such nonsense.) When we make common cause with groups like that sometimes we are assumed to agree with all of their viewpoints and this obscures our message. It also allows some of their ideas to bleed into ours.
“I think when people use the word "destroy" it means more along the lines of making marriage less sacred.” This is still the same argument, only said in a nicer way. The underlying assumption is that gay people are inferior and they would spoil marriage (“make it less sacred.”) The point isn’t to learn to use nicer words, but to actually talk about, and understand the issues in a way that the gay community would accept as fair. Offensive attitudes are still offensive even when they are delivered with kind words.
“I think both sides need to understand that, while their are extreme fringes, most people on either side are just good people, trying to make sense of their world, and make decisions that will make the world a better place for them and their kids.” I agree, but even good people can have bigoted attitudes. Nowadays we like to think of racists as pure evil, but the fact of the matter is that 50 years ago there were a lot of good, honest, nice people who really in their heart of hearts didn’t believe that black people were as good (clean, wholesome, intelligent, etc.) as whites and thought it entirely unfair that black people couldn’t stay in their own specially designated black zones. They believed that desegregation was a violation their rights because they should have a right not to be in the same stores, or share restrooms with people they thought of as dirty or inferior. They really believed that giving blacks equal rights threatened their rights. Just because someone is trying to do what they think is best doesn’t mean they are doing what’s best, and that is why it is so important to deal with people on the basis of respect and equality rather than on the assumption of their inferiority or unworthiness.
“For some people that means marriage as Christian religion has traditionally defined it- between a man and a woman.” I addressed this form of the argument in my original post. If I were to look up marriage in the dictionary we would all think it strange if it said “Marriage= between a man and a woman.” Such a definition doesn’t make sense. Marriage does not mean “between a man and a woman.” Marriage is what is between them, or in other words it is a type of relationship. If we focus on defining the type of relationship that marriage is, and the role that it should play in society then who can enter into such a relationship will flow from that definition naturally. I also believe that from a public attempt to create such a definition would flow other types of relationships that are beneficial to society, and thus would be worth giving official recognition to. As would the recognition that it is the relationship that is sacred, not the word “marriage”. This would also leave the question of rights denied, or religious beliefs threatened, out of the issue.
I believe that the debate on marriage should not be about who should marry (and especially not about who we deem “worthy” to marry), but what marriage is, and its role in society. These issues go way beyond the issues of gay marriage and begin to incorporate the much larger issues and problems facing marriage that the current debate is obscuring (casual divorce, poverty, marriage-like cohabitation, unrealistic expectations, adultery, selfishness, etc.)