Are you saying then, that there is never an occasion where a marital union or an equivalent would need to be recognized in some civil/legal way?
Yes, there do not need to be civil unions (as recognized by government) to handle issues that can be dealt with by contracts or wills. So, yes... never.
Why do people get married, and why do those who can't desire civil unions? Is it just to reap undeserved benefits from the government, or are there other practical legal concerns?
I'm sure many people have their own reasons. Some do it for the rebellion, some for the recognition, some perhaps for the benefits. Each case is different I am sure. And again, these "practical legal concerns" can be handled in other ways.
If the ultimate solution is to make marriage a completely private matter, not to be recognized by the law or the government in any way, the question is how do we get there from where we are now?
I know the answer is to not increase it in scope. It is like proposing to triple the education budget so that you can reduce it later. Riiight.
Until marriage is completely removed from legal and government matters, don't you think something needs to be done to provide equal protection? Or are gay people just plain out of luck?
Do you think that since some kids get free government-subsidized educations while the majority do not, that we should give free college educations to all in order to "provide equal protection? Or are the" kids who don't get free tax-paid college educations "just plain out of luck." If you objectively accept your principle based on fairness and equality according to pre-existing governmental practices, then you must also objectively accept what I propose above. Because the root of the problem is the same, and to change the answer would be to alter conclusions to your liking. And if you do accept the conclusion that "because it is done by government on one scale to one set of people, it should be applied equally to all people on the same scale," which is what you are saying, then objectively you would have to accept a fully socialist or communist state. Because really, all laws are applied to a minority of people, not all people, and not all equally. If we raise the scope to give all things (that government currently gives) to all people that few people have (what you are saying is "fair") then only a socialist state could occur. You are falling into a dangerous area of philosophical grayness, a trap which is avoidable.