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Martino - an extremely thoughtful post, I commend you for being so open minded - particularly as I know your views on religion. Once we realise that the religious definition of marriage and the civil legal definition of marriage are two very different things I wonder whether a lot of the argument wouldn't just fade away. Indeed religious groups themselves often don't agree - a conservative Muslim and Quaker for example would have very different interpretations! Interestingly enough I know of two local Christian couples who got "married" in a registry office before having a Christian ceremony outside a church building. In their eyes their marriage started after the latter ceremony, despite already being technically and legally married. Perhaps as you suggest the answer is to completely separate the two.