Defending Marriage From… Marriage

My fundamental problem with “marriage” as an institution of the government is that in my ideal state (i.e., a truly secular one), marriage would be a religious concept, with the state only blessing “civil unions”. So essentially, if it were up to me, I’d rewrite all our laws to refer only to civil unions — which could be between any two people, regardless of gender — and then various religious denominations could do whatever they damn well please about blessing this or that particular permutation as acceptable or not for their faithful.
That, of course, ain’t going to happen. But while we’re all getting overexcited about Bush’s statements today, it’s important to remember that a constitutional amendment barring gay marriage ain’t going to happen either.
Let’s all remember our civics class, kids: amending the constitution requires the proposed amendment to pass both houses of Congress with a 2/3 majority, and to then be approved by 3/4 of the states.
With Republicans lacking a 2/3 majority in either house of Congress, what are the chances that the Democrats are actually going to allow such a measure to pass in an election year? About the same that George and Dick are actually shacking up together on the side: i.e., nil.
Furthermore, it isn’t even clear that Bush is actually proposing to ban gay marriage, contrary to most news coverage today.
So my counsel is: chill. This is political gamesmanship for the election; nothing more, nothing less.
With that said, however, a legal question did occur to me. Let’s say that an amendment did pass that said something explicit like “Marriage is defined as the union between one man and one woman.” Isn’t it still possible that some future Supreme Court could hold that this new amendment is trumped by the old 14th Amendment, which guarantees “equal protection of the laws” to all persons?
How would such a conflict be resolved, or would it simply be up to the particular sitting Court to choose as it will? To be extra-special sure that no such liberal activist Court ever took such a stance, would the safe bet be to include language in the new amendment explicitly stating that the 14th Amendment didn’t apply in this case? (And wouldn’t that just cause lots of fun politicially…)