For thousands of years, it was understood that marriage was an institution ordained by G-d. A sacrament. A blessing. A thoroughly and completely religious ritual, much like a Christening or a Bar Mitzvah. So why then would any government official have any standing on how it is to be conducted?
Should the county clerk tell you that you could only christen your child on a Thursday at noon? Does the local bureaucrat tell Jewish families that boys should actually celebrate their Bar Mitzvah on their sixteenth birthday instead of the prescribed thirteenth? The answers to both questions are, of course, no. With the exception of marriage, no religious rite requires a permission slip from the government to perform.
In the 1500s, John Calvin led the effort to institute The Marriage Ordinance (of Geneva), which called for joint "state registration and church consecration" for any marriage to be considered valid. Instead of fighting against this initial governmental intrusion on religious practice, this idea was embraced and advanced. As with all government services, a fee was imposed.
The need for religious involvement in marriage was effectively ended when England established the concept of state sanctioned, or so-called civil marriage in 1837, and this concept was further supported when Otto von Bismarck instituted civil marriage in Germany in 1875. Seizing on this momentum, local hacks and flacks here in the United States began to demand that people tithe to the state for the privilege of receiving a government-issued marriage permission slip in the early twentieth century.
Instead of men of the cloth protesting loudly that the government ought to tend to the business of securing borders and raising armies, they seemed to go along for the ride and began to cooperate.
So now that the state is firmly in control of the institution of marriage, what can be done by private citizens? Easy, exercise our actual rights and demand that our representatives start representing us again. Once you understand the history of the situation we have now, you can see the way clear to rectifying it. Since it is obvious that left-wing judicial activists wearing black gowns are anxious to legislate from the bench, it is more important than ever that the legislative and executive branches assert themselves and reflect the true will of the people.
A federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman would provide the means to keep activist judges from forcing same-sex marriage down the throats of the people. But this should be a major lesson for all. The government is never involved in anything in a small way. We would not be in this situation if people of faith had fought more forcefully against what seemed like a minor governmental foray into the institution of marriage by simply demanding a small fee for the "privilege" of conducting a religious ceremony.
Perhaps we'd all be well served to be on guard against those who promise great rewards, if only we'd give up a small piece of our freedoms. Once you have given up your liberty, be it for reasons of convenience or comfort or perceived security, it is virtually impossible to get it back. The only reason that the government now has to fix this problem of defining marriage is because government created it a little more than 100 years ago.
I encourage you all to support the 2008 Federal Marriage Amendment. A great resource site is http://traditionalwedlock.blogspot.com/.