Personally, I wish we'd use different terminology for one to make things more clear. Say, two adults who wish to be recognized as spouses by the government enter a civil union, conferring on them the same legal benefits currently allotted to married couples. No ceremony necessary. If two adults want to have a religious ceremony to recognize their union, that's a matter between them and their respective church. No legal obligation required. I'd much rather see the split be between 'legal benefits' and 'religious rite', than giving a different term based on the genders of the couple.
I do not support the idea of religious marriage without legal marriage. In Belgium, it is e.g. forbidden to marry in church before you marry for the law. The reason for this is to (try to) ensure equality. In some religions, one partner is inherently dominant over the other. A legal framework protects the other partner. It also avoids polygamy.
Now on the issue of marriage between more than two partners. I believe that in a marriage, all partners should always be equal. In my opinion, equality is only possible between two individuals. In a group of three, inequality is, in my opinion, almost
unavoidable. The typical examples of polygamy certainly support this view.
|I don't really have anything to back it up, though.|