There is a maple tree in my backyard. No matter how loudly I demand that you call it an oak tree, it will not produce acorns.
If I secure a court decree renaming that maple tree a money tree, its leaves, now littering my backyard, will still not be legal tender.
Of course, on this hypothetical world, as in our own, there are some who do not like vanilla ice cream. Some, whether they like vanilla ice cream or not, eschew it, in the service of a Higher Power. Others simply can not abide the stuff. It is in their nature to prefer chocolate ice cream instead.
They demand that "vanillage" be redefined to include the right to chocolate ice cream as well as vanilla. But that, say the shocked majority of vanilla ice cream-loving citizens of our hypothetical world, will debase vanillage. It will change it forever. And what, they ask, of those who prefer strawberry or *shudder* Rocky Road? Must such persons also be accommodated?
The chocolate activists go to court to press their case. They say that their rights have been denied because they are not provided with chocolate ice cream according to their own natural desires. The majority responds that the chocolate lovers have been denied nothing. They have the same rights to vanilla ice cream as anyone else; it is the chocolate lovers who refuse the benefits of that institution and demand something different. How should the wise judges in our hypothetical world rule?
"Gay" was a word that once -- even in my lifetime -- meant merely "happy." Gay was also a proper name, given to men and women both. There was a girl in my high school class named Gay. Perhaps it was an old family name, going back generations. But I doubt she's passed it on to her son or daughter. Even 35 years ago, the meaning of that word was beginning to change.
I can accept the evolution of language. The publishers of dictionaries depend upon it. But "marriage" is a legal bond between a man and a woman and it always has been. The word has not been "hijacked" by the Religious Right, as gay activists charge. It is gay activists who are attempting to hijack the word "marriage." Over time the meaning of that word may change. But it has not changed yet. A court may decree that the tree in my backyard is an oak, or even a money tree, but it will still be a maple tree. And people will lose respect for any court that pretends otherwise.
People will lose respect for our courts, also, if courts insist on redefining relationships that aren't marriages as marriages. Gay people are not denied the right to "marry." They do not wish to marry because they do not wish to live with and start families with persons of a different gender. They have this right, but they reject it. But that does not mean that chocolate ice cream and vanilla ice cream are the same or that the State must pretend that they are.
Persons wishing to change this state of affairs should not look to the courts, but to their neighbors instead. I would say that, at least in my limited experience, most people favor legal recognition of gay partnerships -- so a gay man can be at his partner's bedside in the hospital, or so that one partner may provide insurance benefits for the other. This is insufficient for some activists. But people will bristle at -- and will resist -- attempts to change the definition of marriage by judicial fiat.
Activists hoping to advance a gay rights agenda would be well advised to take their crusade out of the courts. If this is a civil rights struggle, it is one that does not belong in, and will not be helped even by "successes" in, the courts.