Separating church from state

It may soon be legal in Virginia and elsewhere in the country.
It may soon be legal to marry in Virginia and elsewhere in the country.

Circuit clerks throughout Virginia, recognizing — in some cases reluctantly — that gay marriage is destined to become the law of the land, are getting ready for an influx of applications after an expected favorable ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week denied motions for a stay of its ruling overturning Virginia’s unconstitutional ban of marriage between those of the same sex.

But the Supreme Court extended the hold until the full court can look at the case.

“We have been getting prepared, and I think we’re just about ready,” interim clerk Edward Jewett told the Richmond Times Dispatch Tuesday.

By granting another stay, the Supremes could rule on the case soon and most legal experts believe the court will rule in favor of removing the bans against gay marriage — a decision that will delight constitutionalists and gay marriage advocates but anger fundamentalist ministers who cling to the notion that homosexuality is a sin.

Writes The Associated Press:

The state’s ban on same-sex marriages was struck down by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which decided not to delay its ruling while it is appealed. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes, same-sex marriages will be legal beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday.

The revised license forms “would reflect the constitutional right of same-sex couples to legally marry in Virginia by asking for the name and gender of each spouse, whereas before, the form required a bride and groom because that was all the Commonwealth could legally recognize,” Michael Kelly, a spokesman for the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, said in an email to The Associated Press.

The request for a delay will either be considered by Chief Justice John Roberts or the full court. The court has twice granted delays in related cases.

While they wait on a decision, some clerks in urban areas are already preparing for an influx of marriage license applicants.

I’m a lifelong Christian who believes in open acceptance, equality and the right to marry among gays. To those who claim the Bible says a man who lies down with a another man “shall be put to death,” I say the same book also claims that anyone who “works on the Sabbath” shall also be killed.  The Bible, which I have read from cover to cover several times in my life, is — by an large — a vast collection of contradictions, parables and passages subject to interpretations.

I have to chuckle when even the most fundamentalist and right-wing preachers of “God’s word” pick and choose which passages they pass off as Gospel and which ones they ignore.

America is a nation of laws aimed at protecting the rights of it citizens and the right to marry — even among those of the same sex — is one of those fundamental rights.

If the Supreme Court upholds those rights, the law will have won and banshee-like screams will emerge from the pulpits of some churches.

Those ministers who take a moment to actually think before going off on a rant might remember that a separation of church and state exists in this nation for precisely reasons like this and the “word of God” should exist in the church and not in the halls of government.

America, by necessity, has changed dramatically over the past 200 plus years and government must reflect those changes.

Or, if the fundamentalists have their way, we can go back to killing anyone who works on the sabbath.

One Response to Separating church from state

  1. This is one of those issues that, even ten years from now, people will look back on and say “There was a problem with that? Really?”