As an interested observer to the debates surrounding the religious and civil application of marriage of same-sex couples, I am utterly amazed that the difference of matrimony (the religious union) and marriage (the civil union) is rarely mentioned. It is at the heart of the debate, but I have heard it discussed only a very few times.
Historically, the term marriage has been intertwined with matrimony so much in our culture that the two can be conflated so easily. Religions already have the “freedom” they desire when it comes to controlling matrimony. There is nothing to discuss. But when that religious freedom is extended to the public arena of marriage, boundaries are overstepped by attempting to establish religious control of others.
Magistrates are public servants and should not be exempted from performing a civil function such as marriage. The prejudicial freedoms accorded a religious elder performing matrimony cannot be applied to a magistrate overseeing the civil contract of marriage.