Among religious people, the debate over homosexual marriage has an aspect that nobody is allowed to talk about in the press (why? I don't know. I don't see any shame in believing in religion or the Bible, but it's certainly anathema to the media to do anything other than belittle it--even though the majority of the country is still religious.). They believe homosexuality is a sin.
So I just thought I'd put in a little perspective from our experiences interacting with high school and college kids in a liberal town in the last 5 years.
Because homosexuality is widely accepted in parts of Colorado, the kids in the liberal towns are all taught about it, exposed to it, and completely tolerant of it, just like the gay community hopes we all would be.
Consequently, when the local kids are 'discovering themselves' in junior high and high school, and their emotions run high and their hormones run higher, and nobody is telling them to save their bodies for marriage (rather, they are taught that following your natural inclinations is both good and healthy), the kids experiment. Now, realistically, close your eyes (or get drunk, which they also do) and kiss someone of either gender and you're likely going to have a hormonal surge. Play at sex and it doesn't matter if its a guy or a girl you're with--if you are 13 or 15, it's gonna be an experience that will feel like a 'defining' experience.
To complicate things further, all emotions to these kids are being methodically tied to physical sexual expression--by their friends, by the media, etc. So if they like someone at all, it's translated in their minds to a sexual thing, even on a slight scale. All warm and friendly feelings are love and all love is sexual. We see this all over the world with teen girls who think they're in love with any boy who smiles at them--that's not new. Acting sexually on it is newer, but even in the 50s it happened a lot. It was just more socially unacceptable then than it is now, when it's not only acceptable, it's expected.
As these kids grow older, they have the usual frustrations that every one of us has had in dealing with the opposite sex--the same frustrations that traditionally have driven women to coffee with their girlfriends and men to drink with their guy friends. People have always gone to their same-gender friends for comfort and solace. But if every warm and friendly feeling is love, and all love is sexual--you see the problem?
We personally know people who broke up in a heterosexual relationship, went crying to their same-gender friends, and announced the next day they were actually gay. If these kids' experiences is any indicator, being gay is actually easier and more immediately 'safe' and 'satisfying' than being heterosexual in terms of the relationship--and if there is no stigma involved socially or religiously, it's easier in every way (especially in communities where 'tolerance' actually means greater respect and more rights). If it's easier to be gay, and cooler to be gay (especially among teens, who LOVE the highs and lows of emotional rollercoasters, 'tempests in a teapot', and social/political crisis of any kind)...what's the motivation to develop the skills necessary to find an opposite-gender spouse, have children, and raise a family? It's the relationship equivalent of moms choosing to have a career instead of have and stay home with children--the career is not only easier, it's more socially rewarding, but the social and cultural implications are enormous, as are the more individual ramifications for long-term satisfaction with your life.
Now, I'm a firm believer that some people are born with homosexual tendencies. Research indicates others may legitimately be driven to it by abuse, and rumor is that others may be 'groomed' and taught by members of the gay community. I am not trying to belittle people who have inborn challenges with homosexuality. We all have challenges with something and don't need people condemning us for that.
On the other hand, when the culture is warped in such a way that there is no motivation to go through the work of a man-woman marriage and work out the difficulties of interacting the the other gender...that doesn't seem very productive for families or for the long-term prospects in the country, where we have to interact successfully with the other gender on a daily basis, even if we aren't married. And if every person who is physically or emotionally or sexually abused believes (as many do) that it automatically makes them gay...what gives?
And if you further believe that homosexuality is a serious sin (which many many people still do, despite the media)--maybe you can see why religious people (even liberals)tend to be deeply opposed to the legitimization of the lifestyle by granting it legal marriage status and by teaching it to young children in schools (and no matter how much they deny it now, that would be in the future--already schools only teach traditional family as one option instead of as the ideal so as not to offend children who have only one parent, are being raised by grandparents, etc).
I'm not sure how to conclude this without getting lots more hate mail and being accused of 'hate speech'.
I suppose the reality is that if you consider homosexuality a sin, then it's important to realize that the implications of making it totally legal and socially acceptable are far far greater than the gay community make it out to be. It's not just a choice between two consenting adults who love each other because they were born with brains that are biologically wired that way. It's not even about children adopted and raised by gay couples. It's not even about grownups who decide they want to sin, if you look at it that way. It has major ripples through all of society in terms of the 'biological' physical/neurological and social development of our teens as their brains and social beings develop, the way people react to and recover from abuse, how heterosexual couples treat each other, expectations for marriage (both in the making of a marriage and how it's supposed to go after that, and how it's 'allowed' to end), the way children are raised and educated, the meaning of and appropriate expression of friendship (little girls used to hold hands and hug to show they were friends...and they can't anymore--even among kindergartners it's considered a defining sexual expression now), and probably a million other areas that we haven't even thought of yet.
It's not the 'little thing that's not hurting you and would make me really happy' that the media makes it out to be. It's not a matter of civil rights only, despite what you hear (It is totally NOT akin to giving black people civil rights like they claim--race is not a sin and never has been). Accepting homosexuality has major implications in our entire culture--for good or ill, depending on which camp you belong to.