So you're saying that you support ending social security survivor benefits?
Many of the non-government benefits of marriage are available to private parties via contract, but contracts are expensive and complicated and marriage is cheap and easy.
You may be right that under current law, there are certain distinctive advantages to a state-licensed marriage that cannot be replicated through private contract and other private legal devices. However, you frequently like to assert
that "changing the law" is something that can be done "pretty easily". Applying that proposition here, you can conclude only that the fact that marriage currently confers certain legal benefits does not constitute a principled argument in favour of maintaining the concept of state-licensed marriages, since that law can be changed "pretty easily".
Many of the non-government benefits of marriage are available to private parties via contract, but contracts are expensive and complicated and marriage is cheap and easy. I think it is still discriminatory to make gay couples fight through mountains of paperwork to secure rights that are automatically granted to straight people. That's not really "equal" is it?
It's obvious that if state-licensed marriages are going to exist, they should be open to all on an equal basis, and in particular there shouldn't be any gender-based restrictions on entering into a marriage. However, the more difficult question, and the one raised by the earlier poster, is whether state-licensed marriages should exist at all. You have not yet articulated an argument as to why they should exist, other than an argument that you yourself would reject in any other context.
The removal of gender-based restrictions has made marriage a more equal institution, but it still meets the needs of only relatively privileged individuals (people in stable dyadic relationships), and more importantly, it remains unclear whether marriage is an institution that should exist in a free society. Marriage is an historically deeply patriarchal institution basically rooted in the transfer of women as property. Legally, it no longer serves that function today in the United States and Canada, but it's difficult to deny that many of the social conventions, and even some of the default legal rules, associated with marriage developed in that historical context. And more importantly, once we are free from the historical context, it's unclear what affirmative societal benefit is advanced by the existence of state-licensed marriages.
In a free society, people should be left to arrange their interpersonal relationships as they see fit
, without the need for the state to privilege one particular form of relationship over any other.
The argument that "contracts are expensive and complicated and marriage is cheap and easy" is counter-factual. The large volume of statutory and case law dealing with marriage demonstrates that marriage is neither cheap, nor easy. In fact, marriage involves a large array of complex legal issues. A private contract may actually be far simpler because it can contain only provisions that are relevant to the parties, rather than importing all of the hundreds of years of law regarding marriages, and it can prescribe mechanisms for dispute resolution that are far less expensive than litigation (such as specifying pre-determined outcomes for certain issues, and supplying an arbitration procedure for certain claims). I am not convinced that contracts are more expensive, or more difficult, than marriage, other than the fact that the current legal order privileges marriages in certain ways that cannot be replicated via contract (which, again, you would say can be changed "pretty easily").