The New York Times published an op-ed by David Blankenhorn and Jonathan Rauch, proposing a Big New Idea: Federal recognition of state-level civil unions and same-sex marriage but if and only if those states offer substantive religious-liberty protection — and the federal government offers substantive religious-liberty protection, too.
(Readers may not know: David Blankenhorn has previously endorsed the idea of civil unions in his book The Future of Marriage.)
It's a generous essay that acknowledges the serious impact same-sex marriage (and civil unions, too) can have on religious people and institutions who cannot accept same-sex unions as marriages. If this marriage debate were really about providing practical legal benefits to same-sex couples, it might represent a real breakthrough.
I don't think that's the debate we are in, sadly. From where I stand, it looks like the progressive/democrat position states: If you believe marriage means a husband and wife, you are not just wrong, you are downright wicked and deserve to have your home address put up on the internet so strangers can harass you. I think the pro-marriage side is going to have to demonstrate an ongoing capacity to organize far more effectively before the gay-marriage juggernaut is going to be looking for a way to compromise.
I am inclined to agree with Maggie's bottom line: no civil union compromise is stable, because the gay lobby views all "compromises" not as stable outcomes where each party gives up something in exchange for social peace. Rather, the gay lobby views each concession by their opponents merely as stepping stones to their ultimate objective of same sex marriage.
As Maggie said: If it were easy, it would have happened by now.