It's not a civil right. It has nothing to do with civil rights. It's not a right.Now, Howard may be right. Marriage may not be a right, and the gay marriage ban may have nothing to do with civil rights, but Howard's argument for this position is frustratingly stupid. He says that the amendment would not limit anyones rights, because even under the ban, anyone can marry, as long as it is someone of the opposite sex. So, the rights of gays and lesbians aren't limited, because they can still marry, as long as they're marrying the type of person that the amendment says that they can. I wonder if, in the 1950s, it was argued that laws banning interracial marriage did not limit the rights of individuals, because they could still marry, as long as they married someone of the same race. Obviously, in the case of interracial marriage bans, individuals' rights were limited. What Howard, and others who have used this argument (and I've seen it all over the place, including in the blogosphere) apparently fail to grasp is that there simple access to an institution does not guarantee that rights are not limited. The right that pro-gay marriage advocates argue is denied to gay and lesbian couples is not the access to marriage, but the right of consenting adults to marry whom they choose. Once again, you may deny that this is in fact a right, and thus that the gay marriage ban "has nothing to do with civil rights," but you can't argue for this position by simply stating that gays can marry, so long as they marry a member of the opposite sex.
UPDATE: In a comment, Brandon provided a link to an excellent article comparing the gay marriage debate to the miscegenation debate. Specifically, the quotes from Justice Roger Traynor of the Supreme Court of California, and of U.S. Supreme Court Cheif Justice Earl Warren, both arguing against bans on interracial marriage, are relevant to this post.