I notice with a mixture of amusement and frustration that Roman Catholics still fail understand contemporary marriage. The conception of marriage referred to by Maolsheachlann as an "awesome and ancient and independent reality" has not existed in Western culture for at least three generations.
Contemporary sexual morality is centered upon love as the moral place to experience sex and marriage. Contemporary marriage is a public declaration of love while losing this love or 'feeling trapped' are socially approved grounds for separation. This is in contrast and opposition to the Roman Catholic view of marriage as a life long commitment between a man and a women each with separately defined roles for the purpose of child raising. The contemporary placement of love above marriage is subtle but it has occurred and it is why poll after poll have confirmed majority support for same-sex marriage and why Fintan O'Toole considers opponents of same-sex marriage as bigoted.
Roman Catholics are of course entitled to claim marriage should be between a man and a women for purpose of raising children. They cannot however claim marriage is between a man and a women for the purpose of raising children because this is clearly untrue. In this respect they have already lost the culture war: the emphasis upon love has already redefined marriage. Roman Catholics, comfortably nestled in the suffocating dogma and alleged tradition of the Vatican city-state, failed to notice the redefinition until a symptom arose as conspicuous as wide spread support for gay marriage. A typical case of bolting the stable door long after the horses have bolted? Justice now demands contemporary marriage be extended to gay relationships.