First, no one is credibly saying that we should take all licensing of ANY kind of union out of the government's hands, except, perhaps Ron Paul and his supporters (who are REPUBLICAN). As much as I sympathize with many Libertarians who also hold this view, I see the need to still have some predictability when it comes to taxes, child custody, etc. So with respect to the Ron Paul folks, I'll simply say that I disagree with you, but have nothing but respect for your position.
Anyway, all that would happen, under the suggestion that I support, is that the Government would license all Unions as "Civil Unions," without discriminating against whether they were same or different sex Unions. The Government gets its license fee, contracts/child-care/custody/taxation but still has something to point to and say, "Yes you two are together, so we can understand that you want a tax break (or penalty!) etc. etc."
Also, the benefit to the compromise is that it avoids (continual) losses in Court finding that prohibiting Gay Marriage violates the US Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. I'm not aware of a SINGLE court that has ever upheld banning gay marriage, and said that was A-OK under the Equal Protection Clause. And don't give me that "THEY ARE ALL LIBERAL ACTIVIST JUDGES!!!!oneone" That's nonsense. Your position doesn't hold up in Court, in the intellectual crucible.
If the compromise were in place, you'd then have some fairly easy scenarios:
1) If you were religious, and wanted to really drive home the point that you were together, you'd go to a church/temple/mosque/whatever and get MARRIED. The license would provide that you could go do that. Or, after obtaining the license, you could do it at the courthouse. Whatever. Your church would call you "married," and you could call yourself that if you wanted. The Gov't would view you as being part of a civil union.
2) If you were Gay and religious, you could see if your church would marry you. If your place of worship would not marry you, then tough luck. You joined a place that looks on you as second class. Maybe you ought to pick a different religion/place of worship. You still have a Courthouse, or even a Country Club, to go have your wedding. The Gov't would view you as being part of a civil union, just like Scenario #1.
3) If you were NOT religious, then go get married/joined/hitched or whatever, and have a party. Nothing would stop you from the colloquial "married," any more than anyone else. You could call yourselves married, whatever. But the Gov't would view you as being part of a civil union, just like Scenarios #1, and #2.
See that? Equality? Or does it burn you, social conservatives? Like sunlight on Gollum?
Answer me this: Why would it bother you SO MUCH if the Government thought of you the same way it thought of a gay couple, if only in terms of taxes and contracts? Does that upset you SO MUCH that you couldn't allow a gay couple to enjoy the same happiness you have? Really?
Do you NEED a pronouncement from the Government that you are "married?" That WORD? You really NEED that from the Goverment, is that your argument? Because, there are a LOT of social conservatives that seem to want LESS Goverment, but on THIS issue (wow, that involves gays and religion), you suddenly will have a self-esteem crisis if Uncle Sam doesn't refer to your union as a marriage? That's nonsense.
What this boils down to is pure
So the conservatives out there who deride "getting government out of the marriage business" as leading to chaos without regulation are just arguing against a strawman. No one is credibly saying that. You just can't stand that Gays might be on equal footing with you, despite that pesky Constitution (hi Tea Partiers!) guaranteeing equality.
I'm done. I kept trying to share links on Twitter, and then would see