In the early 1970’s the Civil Rights movement in the United States was in full swing, seeking to enfranchise people of color and to obtain for them all the civil rights that the white population took for granted. At that time, “almost no one considered people with homosexual attraction as a distinctive demographic group (like race or gender) who were the victims of discrimination. ”  The central legal goal for gays at that time was to reverse laws that made homosexual activity illegal. There were laws against such activity at that time. These laws were considered constitutional as recently as 2003, although penalties were seldom enforced in recent years. In the early 1970’s homosexuality was often viewed as a mental disorder. As recently as 1982, the mayor of San Francisco vetoed a proposal to grant spousal-type benefits to both straight and gay unmarried couples. An editorial in a major San Francisco newspaper agreed with the mayor, saying: “The notion that an unmarried relationship is the equivalent of marriage is an attack upon social norms, the destruction of which concerns a great many people in the nation and … in San Francisco” (Theguardrail.com/transcript.htm). No country anywhere in the world recognized gay marriage until 2001, eight years ago. Since then, a few countries and six U.S. states now recognize same-gender marriages.
Very recently, the American Psychological Association adopted a resolution stating that there is insufficient evidence to prove conclusively whether sexual orientation can be changed. But in what the Wall Street Journal called “a striking departure” from that Association’s earlier hesitation about encouraging such therapy, the same resolution also stated that “it is ethical — and can be beneficial — for counselors to help some clients reject gay or lesbian attractions,” especially clients with a strong religious identity (Stephanie Simon, “A New Therapy on Faith and Sexual Identity,” Wall Street Journal, Aug. 6, 2009 online.wsj.com/article/SB124950491516608883.html).
There is an important difference between endorsing a practice and tolerating it without imposing punishment. Government endorsement of gay marriage denegrates the original institution of marriage between heterosexuals. Marriage is more than a happy union between two people. It is established for children to be born into it, and it is contructed for the best welfare of those children, combining the parenting differences of men and women.
…giving policy priority to the natural family establishes the social goal that, whenever possible, every child has a right to grow up with his or her own mother and father in a legal marriage. That goal binds the father and mother to each other and to their children — and to society’s long-term interests. Civilization began when the culture required men to care about their women and their children. And society has the right to expect that kind of pattern from fathers and mothers — for the sake of the future society’s well being. 
This pattern has already been disrupted in the United States, because we have developed a pattern of divorce and increasing infidelity.
…single-parent families are, with rare and admirable exceptions, generally not as good for children. Damaged children create a damaged society; and when enough families are dysfunctional, society itself becomes dysfunctional.
The radical personal freedom theory on which the Massachusetts same-gender marriage case is based is actually the logical extension of the same individualistic legal concept that created no-fault divorce. Think about it. When the law upholds an individual’s right to END a marriage, regardless of social consequences (as happened with no-fault divorce), that same legal principle can be used to justify the individual’s right to START a marriage, regardless of social consequences (as happens with same-gender marriage).
France, which is not exactly the most conservative country in the world, rejected gay marriage in 2006, because its parliament concluded that these marriages run counter to the best interests of children and the future society. France was not ready, as a matter of conscious public policy choice, to throw out its babies with the bathwater of gay activism. They concluded that marriage should serve a child’s right to optimal personal development, rather than primarily serving adult interests that trump children’s interests. 
The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The prohibition against “an establishment of religion” was intended to separate churches and government, to prevent a national church of the kind still found in Europe.  The free “exercise” of religion obviously involves both the right to choose religious beliefs and affiliations and the right to “exercise” or practice those beliefs.
The greatest infringements of religious freedom occur when the exercise of religion collides with other powerful forces in society. Among the most threatening collisions in the United States today are (1) the rising strength of those who seek to silence religious voices in public debates, and (2) perceived conflicts between religious freedom and the popular appeal of newly alleged civil rights. 
For example, a prominent gay-rights spokesman gave this explanation for his objection to the Mormon Church’s position on California’s Proposition 8:
“I’m not intending it to harm the religion. I think they do wonderful things. Nicest people. . . . My single goal is to get them out of the same-sex marriage business and back to helping hurricane victims” (Karl Vick, “Gay Groups Targeting Mormons,” Salt Lake Tribune, 30 May 2009, A8 (Washington Post story).
Religious freedom is in conflict with the newly alleged “civil right” of same-gender couples to enjoy the privileges of marriage.