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Are you there, God? It’s me, Dwight

As many human rights supporters know, Illinois legislature passed a bill to become the 15th state to legalize gay marriage. While I’m elated that a state so close to us made the decision to support equality, I still had to do a double take at Illinois Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Edwardsville) and his complaints about the lack of acknowledgement toward biblical scripture.

He was quoted saying all he heard was debate on human rights and absolutely nothing on the scripture. My first reaction, of course, was “duh.”

I know what you’re thinking, and no, I’m not going to go into some pro-atheist diatribe about how it is wrong to be a Christian.

The problem here is that Kay is using his faith as a base for political decisions and claiming that stories in the Bible about God punishing the prideful were “real stories.”

One hot button phrase that seems to be so neglected, especially in the midst of debate about gay marriage is the separation of church and state. How can a politician be baffled that scripture wasn’t mentioned once in a debate to pass a bill?

Marriage, as a state-sanctioned institution, is not the same as its religious counterpart.

A religious basis is simply not rational when debating the issue in politics, and it never should be.

One thing that we as Americans are inherently guilty of is confusing marriages with weddings. A marriage is simply a union that is recognized by state and federal law. Weddings are the elaborate, Euro-Christian ceremonies in churches that are plastered all over your Facebook feed every spring.

I promise there is a difference.

Kay is also privileging Christianity over the many other faiths that Illinois residents, and even members of Illinois General Assembly, practice.

That’s right. There are Muslims, Buddhists, Jews and atheists living in Illinois, much to the surprise of Kay.

To try and use Christianity as the moral compass and backbone of Illinois law is outwardly neglecting other faiths (even though they should not be involved in political decision making, either).

If scripture was in harmony with human rights, this would not even be worth discussing. Unfortunately, there will be cultural and legal discrepancies when using a book written 2,000 years ago as a foundation for modern law.

Kay was quoted saying marriage equality is “harmful,” but I want to hear how marriage equality damages the economy or how it defies the Constitution. Only then, would I think twice about supporting my gay classmates, teachers, family members and friends. The great (and stale) debate of Atheism vs. Christianity already finds its way at the dinner table. There is no need to exercise it in politics.

It is people like Dwight Kay who inspired separation of church and state. People who use religious justification to support the prejudice of others do not deserve to decide the fate of our laws.

 

Column by Carly Besser, Opinion Editor