There was no doubt of the sincerity of the participants in this religious ceremony. There were prayers, vestments, and liturgy common to any other Christian denomination marriage ceremony. Had you been blindfolded and dropped into this touchingly simple outdoor service, uncoached and uninformed, you would not have been able to distinguish this wedding from the thousands being conducted in the rest of the country on any Saturday afternoon.
Jaded as I am about religion, I did get a little misty-eyed when the minister spoke of the hands being held by the two grooms. As these ceremonies of commitment go the hope is always for a devoted and determined future of mutual and exclusive support through a lifetime of as many years of life as our genetic destiny will give us. He described these hands as they are now, young and strong brushing away tears of joy and sorrow, touching in moments of intimacy, and when old and wrinkled they will still be the hands we want touching us in times of need.
I view myself as a married man with a partner of 32 years, and I can identify with the sentiments and intentions the minister outlined in his sermon. By what fiat of bigoted ignorance can anyone deny me and millions of other gay and Lesbian Americans this legal right of marriage just because the gender of the two people is the same, choosing to share their bounty and their concerns for as long as they're able, be it one year or hopefully a long lifetime? How is that any different from what opposite-gendered people choose to do?
To answer my own title, I think marriage is the ability of two responsible people committed to each other, with a seriousness of purpose, for as long as they are able to honestly maintain the relationship, with or without the imprimatur of religion.
At one time I was a proponent of going after the recognition of our gay/lesbian equality one right at a time. But at approximately 1,400 individual rights bestowed with a completed marriage license, there aren't enough years for even Methuselah to see the success of the movement. I now see that only a dedicated Federal lawsuit, such as the one being brought by Ted Olson and David Boies ( http://tinyurl.com/q6hvjp ), will give us the true definition of marriage we gay and Lesbian citizens need to live our lives with the choice so casually enjoyed by straights.