Maggie Gallagher

"Had Marilyn Monroe's film been called 'How to Register a Domestic Partnership With a Millionaire,' it would not have conveyed the same meaning as did her famous movie," Reinhardt writes.

Yes, marriage means something. That is why voters who have no interest in keeping two gay men from visiting each other in a hospital room, want to protect the meaning of the word marriage, including sustaining its deep roots in human nature.

Marriage is a social institution, one that arises across time and history because it is rooted in human realities beyond the power of courts to change.

For millions of Americans, the sense that marriage is sacred, that it involves something foundational to our culture, is rooted in human nature: Unions of husband and wife really are different from other loving relationships; they are necessary to the whole future of society in a way other relationships, however loving, are not.

Marriage is sacred because when male and female come together, the necessary conditions of our being are fulfilled in a unique way -- a way no other relationship approximates.

Marriage is not just a set of benefits. It's a symbol of enduring human truths. Adding same-sex couples does not just add a few new entrants to an existing institution; it changes the public meaning -- if not for Judge Reinhardt, then for millions of American for whom a husband means a man willing to take a bride, not a man who chooses any other sort of loving relationship.

Gay marriage is rooted in a false equation: Loving a man is not the same as loving a woman; a sexual union that can give rise to children is fundamentally different in kind than a union not so freighted, for good and for ill, with the fact of procreativity.

There is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage, and sooner or later, the Supreme Court will make that clear.

In the meantime, thankfully, between now and the time that court will rule, we have an election this November in which we can make our voices heard.

Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.