It looks like there's some common sense in Connecticut after all.
Here's the deal: My church doesn't control the government. Frankly, I wouldn't want it to. There was a time when it had a heavy influence in politics, and we got no end of grief from it.
But at the same time, the government not only shouldn't control my church, but it's expressly forbidden to in the Constitution. My church has always had a definition of marriage that is different from the state's. Up till now it hasn't been an issue, for reasons I got into here. (I'd like to go on record again as believing that if the state recognizes same-sex marriages, it has no reasonable basis for prohibiting polygamous ones. Marriage equality isn't just for social liberals.)
But what happens when a gay couple decides to sign up for a Church-sponsored Marriage Encounter, for instance? Or when they demand the use of Church facilities for a blasphemous ceremony?
Yeah, yeah... it'll never happen, right? Let's be realistic. How long do you think it will take before some activist couple decides to make a test case out of the Church's marriage stance? Long enough for the ink to dry on their state marriage license, if we're lucky.
(Side note: Other churches will probably have to deal with this problem to a lesser extent, but the Catholic Church is apt to be the biggest target, simply by being (a) the biggest church out there and (b) one where people still consider themselves members even when their beliefs no longer fit the Church's teachings. So there are plenty of actively gay people in the Catholic Church where there are probably very few in, say, an Assembly of God congregation.)
The Connecticut clauses eliminate that danger, making it possible for the state to have a definition of marriage that churches (and individuals whose consciences forbid it) are not required to adhere to. I am free to believe that a gay couple is simply a very committed unmarried couple, while they still have all the recognition of the law as married. Win-win.
I hope so, anyway. Here's where the rubber meets the road. Will proponents of same-sex marriage accept a compromise in which everybody wins, or is it essential that the Christians lose? In other words, is the goal equality, or dominance? I'm up for equality if they are. We'll see what happens in Connecticut.