Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | March 22, 2004

Same-sex marriage is about separation of church and state

I’ve been spending a lot of time on the roads between Morgan Hill, Gilroy and Hollister during our current tantalizing burst of summer in late winter. What a joy it’s been to put the top down in 80-degree weather and drive past fields with row upon row of chartreuse leaves; to gaze upon bucolic cows and horses grazing contentedly; to be dazzled by acres of fruit and nut trees that have exploded with blossoms; and to look for miles into rolling hills that are verdant now, but knowing that soon they will change to golden brown as spring progresses.

After spending years in the midwest, the gorgeous hillsides that surround us seem to me to have the seasons backwards: They’re gloriously green in the winter, when Ohio’s grass is brown; and they’re flaxen in summer, while back east meadows sport lush emerald flora.

That backwardness delighted me when I first moved to South Valley more than seven years ago, and it still tickles me to have spring on the hillsides for the holidays.

But other backwardness I find less amusing – specifically some of the reaction to my column supporting same-sex marriage. Although I received several kind, supportive notes, I also received an e-mail message calling on me to remember the eternal consequences for rejecting absolute biblical truth and another asserting that homosexuality is a disease and AIDS is the cure (and the vitriol got more hateful in that e-mail message). Cynthia Walker wrote a column opposing same-sex marriage with the argument that “the purpose of marriage is to provide a stable, nurturing home for the raising of children.” Others wrote letters to the editor asserting that the Bible condemns homosexuality, so we all should.

Of course, none of those reactions address my central argument that the federal government should not be in the business of protecting the sanctity of anything; and that doing so violates the separation of church and state that prevents any religion from dictating behavior and belief to others.

As for Ms. Walker’s argument, raising children is one function of marriage, but it is clearly not the only purpose of the institution. Marriage is about commitment, companionship, care and – less so today than in the past – protection of property. Marriage is about a lot of things, and raising children is one of them for some people. Should we declare unfit for marriage anyone who is unable to reproduce, or who chooses not to have children? Of course not. Clearly, raising children is not the only purpose of marriage.

For the sake of argument, though, let’s suppose raising children is the sole purpose of marriage. That still wouldn’t be a reason for society to bar homosexuals from the institution. Gays can adopt and bear their own children with the help of artificial insemination and surrogate mothers, just like many heterosexual couples do.

And to those who point to the Bible as the basis for their opposition to same-sex marriage, I’d like to point out the following things the Bible advocates:

• Executing children who curse their parents (Leviticus 20:9, Matthew 15:4);

• Stoning to death brides who are not virgins (Deuteronomy 22:13-21);

• Executing adulterers by stoning (Deuteronomy 22:22);

• Banning divorce and remarriage (Mark 10:11-12).

And those are just a few of the passages in both the Old and New Testaments that advocate practices that today we’d rate anywhere from inconvenient to abhorrent to unconscionable.

When passionate opponents of gay marriage begin working with the same zeal to force Americans live by all of these biblical teachings as they use to stop same-sex unions, I’ll at least be able to stop thinking of them as hypocrites.

Until then, I’ll just have to pity them for their homophobia. I can think of no other reason same-sex marriage opponents are picking and choosing the biblical edicts to impose upon all Americans.

But regardless of the source of their desire to dilute our First Amendment protections and write discrimination into our nation’s founding document – hypocrisy, homophobia or ignorance – I’ll speak out against it.

The most religious among us ought to be applauding that stance, not decrying it. After all, as a T-shirt so sagely puts it, “If you don’t like separation of church and state, move to Iran.



  1. […] AFA start lobbying the government and companies to uphold all of the regulations in the Bible – even those that are uncomfortable, at best, by today’s standards – with the same vigor as they use to protest “the homosexual agenda,” I can only come […]

  2. […] “fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution” and takes umbrage that Obama points out, as I have, that a literal interpretation of the Bible leads to some pretty awful things, say, like stoning of […]

  3. […] heartily agree, and have made similar points when I’ve written about same-sex marriage, the so-called ‘war on Christmas,’ physician-assisted suicide, and separation of church […]

  4. […] see how many other stars you can spot in this Funny or Die video. Jack/Jesus makes many of the points I’ve been making over the years as I try to counter Bible-based arguments against same-sex […]

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