Efforts to legalize homosexual marriage in New York remain stalled, at this writing, with the supporters of redefining marriage needing one more Republican vote in the states Senate.

Reports indicate that efforts are underway to draft expanded religious exemptions that could protect the liberty of religious organizations that disapprove of homosexual conduct or of homosexual marriage.

It is true that pro-family groups (including FRC) have argued that legalizing homosexual marriage would create a threat to religious liberty. The most often cited example is how Catholic Charities was forced out of the adoption business in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia after those jurisdictions legalized homosexual marriage, because the group was unwilling to compromise its principles by placing adoptive children with homosexual couples.

But even if religious non-profits like Catholic Charities were to be protected, what about Christians in business, like the wedding photographer in New Mexico who was sued for declining to photograph a homosexual commitment ceremony?

The only kind of religious exemption broad enough to completely protect rights of conscienceone saying, basically, Any person, organization, or business that does not approve of same-sex marriage will not be required to recognize homosexual relationships as marriageswould be completely unacceptable to the advocates of homosexual marriage. Forcing the rest of society to affirm and celebrate homosexual relationships is precisely the goal of their movement.

However, even such an absolute religious and conscientious exemption to a homosexual marriage bill would not make the redefinition of marriage acceptable, or even tolerable, for one simple reasonthe principal objection to homosexual marriage has nothing to do with religion. This is something that people on both sides of this debate need to be constantly reminded of.

We are not just fighting for the right of religions to define marriage for themselves, apart from the definition of civil marriage. This is because, at its heart, marriage is neither a civil institution nor a religious institution.

Instead, marriage is a natural institutionrooted in the order of nature itself.

The reason marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman is because it takes precisely one man and one woman to create a new human life. Marriage is treated as a public institution because it is in the public interest (not just in the private interest of particular couples) for the human race to reproduce and continue into future generations.

It is also in the public interest for society to work at bonding each child to the mother and father whose sexual union produced them. This was evident even to the ancients, but modern social science has confirmedbeyond a shadow of a doubtthat children raised by their own married mother and father are happier, healthier, and more prosperous than children raised in any other living situation.

I wrote a pamphlet earlier this year listing The Top Ten Harms of Same-Sex Marriage. The threat to religious liberty was only one out of the ten. Even if that harm could be thoroughly forestalleda grade of 10% is still a failing grade.

The core message of the opposition to homosexual marriage is not just, Dont make us perform same-sex weddings in our church. Instead, it is: Society needs children, and children need a mom and a dad.

Thats true whether you are a Christian, a Buddhist, or an atheist.