In the US, there remain 9 states that haven't outright banned gay marriage and offer either full marriage or some kind of equivalent. But those marriage/union rights didn't just spring into existence, they were legislated. Of the 41 states that have banned gay marriage, only 2 offer civil unions. If you're in the other 39, you're out of luck. You can move, permanently, to another state, or you suck it up. That's it. The only other option available would be to specifically legislate some kind of civil union contract, but even there we have problems. Because of those 36 states, 19 of them don't just ban marriage, they explicitly ban civil unions as well. Take my very own state of Virginia:
Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions. This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.In other words: no gay marriage, no civil unions, and no private legal contracts that seek to approximate the benefits of marriage. Basically, if you're gay, you're persona non-grata.
So while I sympathize with both the separate-but-equal and get-government-out-of-marriage arguments, you just can't argue that there are other options available to most Americans. Indeed, more Americans live in a state that actively prevents any kind of gay civil union than live in a state where civil unions or marriage is available. You can call that many things, but you can't call it equal.