I would like to at least refer to the original question - If we are in a homogeneous Christian society (which, I'll venture to say this country hasn't really been at any point in its existence - but that's another issue) what rights should people who identify themselves as gay have... and I would agree that they deserve the right against descrimination, the rights to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc...
But I also think that, especially if Orthodox Christians are part of the decision-making, that we cannot divorce within ourselves the "religious" and "secular" - that is to say, we cannot remove our Orthodoxy from our decision making if we are members of the cabinet or Congress or Oligarchy or whatever. Permitting things like "common-law marriage" and homosexual marriage would be unacceptable to me, and should be opposed by anyone that is Orthodox. But, remember, love the sinner hate the sin - I do think Aristoklis is on to something with his argument that the tax and property-ownership systems are flawed. Anyone should be able to bequeath whatever they want to whomever they want. If two males or two females are living together, and one wants the other to get their possesions or whatnot, they should be able to file a simple little document saying so.
But marriage - let's not turn marriage into the age-old mess of changing property and doweries, etc. Maybe that's the idealist sap in me, saying that these same-sex couples should not use marraige as a way of legitimizing their relationship and using it to gain property rights - let them use an un-sacred institution like Uncle Sam's IRS and the state Title departments to do that.
The Church has always held that homosexual acts are sinful. The canons provide penances that vary from 80 days to numerous years, depending on what specific sexual act is committed. Marriage--as a Holy Mystery can only be blessed and be a Holy Mystery in and by the Church. A judge or civil organization does not have the ability to make a marriage in the sacramental sense of the word. What is done by the state is merely a legal covenant. This current legal covenant (that society calls "marriage") can be entered into by a drunk Britney Spears (who in a drunken state "married" a co-partygoer), and can be dissolved by a legal entity (i.e. when Britney Spears sobered up and undid her little indiscretion). That's not marriage. It never was, and never will be--the state's sanction notwithstanding. We, as Orthodox Christians, should not fear that the "sanctity of marriage" is threatened by gay unions, common law "marriages," or any other legal concoctions created by the state, because marriage, as "Holy Matrimony" can only come through the Church, and the Church will never consecrate or sanction homosexual unions. As far as the state goes...well, they've already flushed marriage and morality down the toilet:
--The state already sanctions easy divorce AND remarriage--basically for any reason under the sun. This is not Orthodox.
--The state already recognizes common law marriages between two fornicators after so many years. This is not Orthodox.
--The state has no laws against adultery--at least that are enforced. Orthodoxy does not condone adultery.
--The state has no laws against fornication--at least that are enforced. Orthodoxy does not condone fornication.
--The state has no laws against the practice of Satanism and Witchcraft. Yet, these "religions" are abominable from an Orthodox POV.
My point is: Why are some Orthodox seemingly worried about the sanctity of marriage as if the state has any power against the Mysteries of the Christ? "Marriage," as practiced by the state, is already far removed from any Orthodox concept.
Another point: I have heard a lot of concern from Christian people (of various sorts) about saving the "sanctity of marriage" or the family by opposing homosexual unions, and efforts to bring about constitutional amendments against such a practice. Yet, homosexuals constitute a very small % of the population, and how does their lifestyle threaten my family? I would think rather that the fact that an average of 1 out of 2 marriages end up in divorce is a far greater assault on the sanctity of marriage and the family than gays seeking legal recognition of their "arrangement." I would also think that the enormously high incidence of adultery is a threat to marriage and the family. Yet, I see no efforts being made to enact laws or create constitutional amendments that would make divorce and remarriage more difficult, and to make it painful to commit adultery. Why is this?
*Ideally* speaking...in an Orthodox society, none of the above evils should exist. But we don't live in an Orthodox society...and I believe to pick and choose what morality to become activistic about and what morality to ignore gives the impression that Christians hate one group of sinners (making them a sort of scapegoat for our own failure of family and marriage) while being more indulgent or allowing of other sinners.
I personally believe, we ought to allow "civil unions" (strictly from a legal standpoint). IMO, this does not express our moral approval of homosexuality any more than the allowance of divorce and remarriage expresses any approval of no-fault divorce and remarriage.--any more than the fact that the Church of Satan is a legally recognized religion constitutes any moral approval of the practice of Satanism. If homosexuals approach the Church, then the standard is unmitigatingly and lovingly shown to them as to any sinner (adulterers, fornicators, masturbators, etc, etc) who approaches Christ--Repent and believe the Gospel, and confess and struggle against sin. We should always see ourselves as the chief of sinners.