I genuinely do not understand why gay marriage is even being debated. Didn't we go through this second-class citizen bullsh*t with black people already? What's to debate? Gay citizens are still citizens and shouldn't be treated any differently, yet here we are hashing out issues I thought our country had already resolved decades ago.
The issue isn't about whether gay people are citizens, but whether a relationship between two people of the same sex can qualify for a specific legal status. That's it.
My best understanding of the opposition to "gay marriage" is the use of the term "marriage", which has religious meaning in addition to the legal definition.
Wrong. Opposing the use of the word "marriage" in anything other than a legal context is meaningless. No one cares what a gay couple calls their relationship (ok, some people may, but that's their personal opinion and has nothing at all to do with the legal conflict at hand). They care about what legal status the state grants to it.
I'll bet that if you asked people if they supported "civil unions" for gay couples, the response would be much more favorable than asking if they supported "gay marriage."
Yeah. Many of those polls that get reported as "what percentage support/oppose gay marriage" actually do ask that question in a way which includes civil unions. For example, the recent Gallup poll, broadly touted in the news as saying that 50% support gay marriage, while 48% oppose it, didn't actually specify "gay marriage" in the question. There's a lot of spin about this issue.
My best understanding of the opposition to "gay marriage" is the "gay" part. Some folks just don't like homosexual activity. They'll use any multitude of reasons for it: religion, tradition, word usage, moral decay; but in the end it's usually "I find homosexuality icky and don't want it around or accepted in any way, shape, or form."
Really? Your best understanding of this issue doesn't allow you to notice that while only a teeny tiny percentage of the US population goes around beating up gays on the street, several states have passed laws limiting the legal definition of marriage to exclude same sex couples with 10+ point majority margins. And you honestly can't noodle out that maybe, just maybe there's some reason beyond "gay people are icky" behind that?
Seems like you're deliberately clinging to a simplistic strawman reason. Maybe you should think a bit harder and expand your understanding of the issue?