Think about the regions of the nation where the sanctioning of same-sex relationships has proliferated, and then consider how that happened. In Massachusetts it was forced by the state supreme court. In Vermont it was brought about by the legislature - - a legislature that incurred the ire of its own constituents and a reprimand by its own state courts. And in San Francisco, the mayor issued "marriage licenses" to same-sex couples that weren’t even valid (he was just "proving a point"), and was eventually reprimanded by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Bottom line: Americans believe that a "marriage" is, necessarily, a relationship between one man and one woman. And however tolerant or accepting our culture has become of homosexuals and homosexual couples, at this point in time we simply aren’t ready to change the definition of marriage.
Thus, referring to "civil unions" is far more politically palatable than speaking of "gay marriage." And it would be a mistake to dismiss this change in terminology as nothing more than semantic gamesmanship.
At the event, Obama even shrugged-off the accusation that he was playing semantic games, stating that while "semantics may be important for some," he is nonetheless focused on granting "legal rights" to same-sex couples.
But this further begs a second question: while the term "civil unions" is more acceptable than "gay marriage," is there any substantive difference between the two?
Thus far the democrats’ proposals for "civil unions" remain generalized and rather vague, and it is difficult to tell how a "civil union" might compare to a "marriage."
We’ll have to wait and see where Democrats go on this issue. But we can probably expect to hear very little about the "M" word, as this debate continues.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.