So it's almost sad to see conservative libertarians try to spin things so that the attainment of civil rights can be used to reduce the size of government and restrict immigration to the US. The National Review's John Fund credits Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for raising the idea that government shouldn't have anything to do with recognizing marriages, traditional or otherwise. This sounds like a modern, secular position until Fund gets into specifics.
Turning marriage into fundamentally a private right wouldn’t be an easy task. Courts and government would still be called on to recognize and enforce contracts that a couple would enter into, and clearly some contracts — such as in a slave-master relationship — would be invalid. But instead of fighting over which marriages gain its approval, government would end the business of making distinctions for the purpose of social engineering based on whether someone was married. A flatter tax code would go a long way toward ending marriage penalties or bonuses. We would need a more sensible system of legal immigration so that fewer people would enter the country solely on the basis of spousal rights.
So the deal is: Let's give gays and lesbians equal rights, but as part of a grand bargain that would make the tax code more regressive and make it harder for people to immigrate to America while keeping their families intact. I can see more implications of this deal: no more Social Security or other benefits to surviving spouses, no laws requiring employers to extend health insurance coverage or family leave to spouses, no ability to sue a third party responsible for your spouse's death, etc. I don't know what would happen with child support payments if a couple splits up; I suppose it depends on what's in the not-marriage contract that both parties sign. So even if you still get married in a church, better get a good lawyer to draw up that pre-nup.
This bargain would be a great way to create a backlash against the LGBT community: "If the queers hadn't demanded to get married, you'd still have your Social Security benefits!"
No dice. Gays and lesbians want to strengthen marriage, not destroy it. There's no public support for this wedge-shaped middle ground.