Dennis Sadowski at Catholic News Service:
The widening campaign by gay rights advocates to promote same-sex marriage as a civil rights issue is forcing Catholic and other religious institutions to confront charges of intolerance and discrimination.
Also at risk, say church officials working on the legal front, is the way religious institutions and individuals opposed to same-sex marriage conduct business from hall rentals to receiving government contracts for social services.
... "The general issue is the definition of marriage creates many, many rights, not just one," explained Anthony R. Picarello Jr., general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "So changing the definition of marriage creates changes throughout the legal system."
... "Redefining marriage has a multiplier effect," Picarello explained to Catholic News Service. "The problems proliferate. The problems that we see under mere sexual orientation anti-discrimination laws multiply by order of magnitude when marriage is redefined.
"Marriage is a legal lever, because in our society we have a legal infrastructure that rewards those who support marriage, and punishes those who oppose it. When that legal structure ... is then applied to a relationship that isn't marriage, the people who object to that definition are going to suffer severe disadvantages," he added.