When it happened in San Francisco, the problem was that a city official was trying to usurp state law through local action. Civics lesson learned? Gay marriage is an issue for the states.
When it began being discussed nationally, the problem was states trying to force their laws on other states. Civics lesson learned? Gay marriage is an issue for the federal government.
When it happened in Massachusetts, the problem was "activist judges" foisting social change on the public without going through the proper channels of representative democracy. Civics lesson learned: Gay marriage is an issue for the people, not the courts.
So when it happened again this week in California, the problem was representatives trying to change legal precedents without going through the proper judicial channels. That's the reason Governor Schwarzenegger gave for vetoing the legislature's gay marriage bill last night. Civics lesson learned? Gay marriage is an issue for the courts, not legislatures.
Confused? That's not surprising. It's sounding more and more as if opponents of same-sex marriage aren't really so concerned about process. Rather, the lesson of all these civics lessons is that opponents will do or say anything, no matter how contradictory, to stop the legalization of gay marriage.