Barring an extremely unlikely court action, today gay couples in California will be able to buy marriage licenses and gain access to civil marriage in that state.
They won't really be married, of course, any more than the plural wives of the FLDS are really married to their husbands (except for wife number one), or any more than children who dress up and drag a stuffed dog down the "aisle" set up in the living room are married, or any more than various adulterers or serial marriage pretenders are really married. They'll be as married as poor Anne Boleyn was to Henry VIII--not at all, and probably not for long, the vast majority of them. They won't suddenly and magically radiate social acceptability for their perverse and twisted lifestyles or deviant behaviors; they'll be just as abnormal and perverted tomorrow as they are today. But they're going to get to pretend, for a little bit, that sticking two little groom-figures or bride-figures on a cake makes any kind of reality other than a sad, sad one.
And just like their Massachusetts counterparts, they'll be a tiny number, a fraction of a fraction of the population. Most gay couples didn't rush to Canada or Massachusetts or Europe for a gay wedding, and I expect the same situation to unfold in California: a rush to the altar for the most activist of couples--and a disproportionate number of them will be lesbians--followed by a slacking off and a slowdown to the point where it becomes obvious that the vast majority of people engaging in homosexual activity have no desire to be married to their current companion(s); this article suggests as much. In fact, without the lesbian component to this whole debacle gay marriage would still probably be a figment of a diseased imagination; but lesbians are known for their rush to "commitment": this article references a longstanding lesbian joke which allegedly asks "What does a lesbian take along on a second date? A U-Haul!"
And since we all know what happens when people rush into marriage, it seems pretty obvious that soon a "gay divorcee" won't necessarily be a merry person at all. Instead of somehow "helping" the marriage crisis in our nation, gay marriage is likely to add to our societal dysfunction in ways that will make ordinary divorces seem like relatively sane and quiet affairs.
Those of us who are Catholic, and other Christians who share our beliefs about the sanctity of marriage, might wonder whether any of this is really going to matter. A civil marriage license is barely worth the paper it's printed on, anyway--so long as our rights to religious freedom are protected, should we care that our culture is lurching forward into its own dissolution?
The thing is, gay marriage isn't just changing marriage for them. It's changing it for the rest of us as well.
Parent contact forms, such as those issued by schools, camps, daycares, and so on, in many places now list "Parent One" and "Parent Two" instead of "Father" and "Mother." We can't cause people who are by nature incapable of reproduction to experience hurt feelings, now can we? But the rest of us have lost the right to be considered our children's mother or father.
Here is a link to an old marriage license application for the State of California (I've linked to the HTML rather than the PDF file). Notice the areas that say "Groom" and "Bride"? Well, guess what: the new marriage forms now say "Party A" and "Party B," which means the rest of those getting married in California have lost the right to be acknowledged as a bride or a groom. And someday we'll all have lost that right.
Remember old-fashioned marriage ceremonies, the ones that ended with "I now pronounce you man and wife,"? Well, in California from now on:
"Here's the wording recommendation from the County Clerks Assn. of California: "By virtue of the authority vested in me, as a Deputy Commissioner of Marriages for the County of XXX, I now pronounce this couple united in marriage under the laws of the state of California.""
Gosh, how romantic. Not.
In this giant game of "Let's pretend that two men or two women make exactly the same kind of couple as a man and a woman, well, except for that tiny inconvenient thing about having at least some possibility of reproducing, but we enlightened moderns have decided that breeding has nothing whatsoever to do with marriage anyway, which is all about love, even the kind of love that's going to condemn Party A and Party B to an eternity of suffering in hellfire, if you're still so medieval as to believe in any of that anyway, in which case we now get to call you a bigot and silence you at every opportunity," those of us representing the sanity of the status quo of untold human centuries are the losers. We're exactly like the hapless children in Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat, who watch horror-stricken as the Cat's wild and uncontrollable friends, Thing One and Thing Two, destroy their house with their mad games--only unlike the Cat in the story, the cultural forces at work here have no intention and no hope of a near-miraculous clean-up before the bill for what we have wrought comes due--and then, believe me, there'll be hell to pay.
California marriage licenses might as well abandon the terminology of "Party A" and "Party B" in favor of "Thing One" and "Thing Two." The little nod in recognition to the social and cultural destruction they're about to unleash would be at least be comparatively honest.