Civil (legal) marriage and religious (ceremonial) marriage are actually two separate events, tied together by the thing that both most often share - a legal document called a marriage license. The license is totally civil, applied for and obtained from government, issued by government after the ceremony. The ceremony itself does not necessarily come with the license - anyone can have a ceremony and call it marriage. Doesn't make it legal.
If we could change what we call it, and label anything issued by the government "civil" union or marriage or whatever, I guess it COULD work. But think about the work and money that would take, to change our laws, forms, etc. It's not going to happen.
That's why I firmly believe we should not settle for anything less than full marriage. When marriage equality is a reality for everyone here in the states, then the opposition will give in and go fight against something else. They will completely forget they ever thought "marriage" was just a straight term. I think some great documentaries can be made from this trial, especially in terms of the 'history' of marriage. It's anything BUT what the pro-Prop 8 folks claim it is.
"Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation."
Coretta Scott King