Whether or not marriage is covered under civil rights is also
subjective. There aren't any national laws that declare marriage a right; the only way that this is a civil rights issue is by extension and interpretation of other laws. You can stretch equal protection under the law within the fourteenth amendment to put together a case, but it's not deductive by any stretch of the imagination. I believe the argument you're making is:
"The fourteenth amendment requires that the government not discriminate against minorities. Homosexuals are a minority. Heterosexuals can marry their significant others, but homosexuals cannot, therefore the federal government is discriminating against homosexuals, and homosexuals should be allowed to marry."
The problem is, that's based on interpretation of interpretation of careful wording. One could easily reach a different conclusion using semantics:
"The fourteenth amendment requires that the government not discriminate against minorities. Homosexuals are a minority. Heterosexuals are allowed to marry, as are homosexuals." The key here being, that marriage is defined in the traditional sense of a union between a man and a woman (which is enshrined in law now thanks to President Clinton and the Republican Congress of 1996) where a homosexual wouldn't want to marry because they're not attracted to the opposite sex (but they could if they wanted to). You certainly can't deny that there is a longstanding definition of marriage as that, which the majority of the society agrees with and adheres to.
Personally I think that all of that is a meaningless attempt to sidestep the debate, but I think in more utilitarian terms. I don't think that there's a good reason intrinsic to the action for not allowing gays to marry when you break it down to pros and cons. A lot of the fear over it is completely unfounded and based on absolutely nothing other than basic human bigotry and aversion to difference.
Sadly, for as much as I'd like to see it change, I recognize that people don't take well to having minority opinions forced on the majority. I look at abortion and see how horribly that mandate went considering we're still debating it all these years later (and the majority opinion is still in favor of more control over abortion). I think of all of the things conservatives want done, and imagine that they could probably find loose justifications in the constitution for it, and think about how horrifying the prospect of having them force prayer in school on the entire country or something equally as abominable.
If you have respect for Democracy, you have to have respect for Democracy always, not just when you agree with the conclusion it reaches. Either you have faith that the majority will eventually get it right, or give up all pretenses of support for popular opinion in all forms.
I agree that it's great that this was passed if
things work out; honestly, if the educated few can actually teach the masses to be more socially progressive with jurisprudence and philosophical argument, I'm all for it. But I just watched the Mama Grizzlies video put out by Sarah Palin again, so I suppose my outlook is very grim.
EDIT: And if you want to see how murky the waters really are, check out the actual equal protection clause:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.