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Letter: Marriage Bill is Not a Religious Issue (Syracuse Post Standard)

To the Editor:

The Post Standard’s Dec. 3 article reacting to the Senate’s vote on the marriage bill contained statements calling same-sex marriage un-Christian and suggesting that legislators voted based on that conclusion.

The issue of whether two consenting adults in a committed relationship can marry, and whether the government should recognize that union, is not a religious matter. And in a country where the government is permitted neither to support nor interfere with religion, it shouldn’t be.

If any legislators voted based on religious principles instead of on the convictions of their heart or the sentiments of their constituents, then they violated their official oath to uphold the Constitution.

No decision in governance should be based on religious principles. This is not a Christian country, though some of our values are based on Judeo-Christian principles. Our founders made the supremely prescient and rational decision to keep government out of the business of religion and prevent government from acting on the basis of religion.

The marriage bill respected this fundamental principle. It was both deliberate and careful in ensuring that no religious community would be forced to solemnize a same-sex marriage.

That is how it should be in the United States, and that is why religious considerations should not have influenced the Senate’s vote.

Barrie Gewanter
Director, Central New York Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union

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