Before the election I went on a date with a young lady and the topic of politics reared its ugly head. The woman, who I will call Nikki, said she was voting for George W Bush. This was one week from Election Day and emotions in America were riding high. I was not only backing Kerry but was also very enamored with him as my generation’s answer to George McGovern. Many times this past election I compared this election to McGovern versus Nixon. Unfortunately, I was given the displeasure of suffering the same crushing blow as McGovern supporters had to endure. When I heard her profess her devotion for President Bush I knew there would not be another date. I am no James Carville and cannot fathom seriously dating someone from across the aisle especially during these divisive political times. I can share a friendship with a right winger but not a romance. After almost gagging on my Filet Mignon while she spoke of her admiration for President Bush the dreaded question I was waiting for finally came; who are you voting for? I lied and told her that I was voting for President Bush. During the time she had been waxing poetic about Bush’s grand plan for America I knew the question was coming and hatched a plan to just nod and agree when she asked for my input while trying to keep down my expensive dinner. This would allow me to see what made this right winger tick. Upon the first retelling of this tale my approach was named the “James Carville Experiment” by photographer Jess Martin.

Reassured that she was speaking to one of her own, Nikki continued down her path of right wing ideological thought while I dutifully listened. No new area of thought was covered. She was pro-life, pro-Ten Commandments, and anti-gay amongst all of the other ill conceived standard Republican platforms. After the dinner I just shook my head and did not think much of the conversation. I thought the experiment had failed. But later that night the conversation started playing back in my head. I could not get it out of my head. What did it all mean? Then I remembered the most poignant moment of our banter when she explained why she was against civil unions and/or gay marriage. She said, “I don’t understand why all these people want gay marriage because gay marriage is against the Bible!” While I am sure many of you have heard the same reasoning from people you know on the right, stop and think about that stream of logic. What are civil unions? Is it an attempt to force churches to perform and honor gay marriage and/or unions? No, it is not. It is an attempt to give gay people the same legal rights as their heterosexual neighbors. It has nothing at all to do with religion. It has to do with law. So why would Nikki cite the Bible as the authority of an issue that is an issue of secular law? Wouldn’t the correct document to cite be the United States Constitution? Are not gay rights in the market place and in the eyes of the government a LEGAL issue? Yes, yes, they are. I’ll write that again, gay marriage is a legal issue of rights not an issue of religious dogma since under a civil union/gay marriage law churches would be required to do nothing. It does not affect the church, it affects the state. That brings me to what is supposed to exist between church and state, namely a separation.

It is easy to pass over the civil union struggle as a fringe battle for a minority of the population but you have to look at what I am saying with closer eyes. Christians like Nikki do not just look at this issue and refer to the Bible as their standard rule of law they look at EVERY ISSUE using the Bible as their rule of law. This is a flawed view. The Constitution is the correct document to refer to when speaking of secular law, NOT THE BIBLE, or the Koran, or the Torah, or any other religious text. These books help shape lives and their philosophies of love, kindness, and compassion do a lot of good in the world today. I have a deep sense of respect for religious people the world over. That being said, I am not willing to cede my rights to any faith. My rights are based on the Constitution and the powers set forth therein. Any other view is contrary to the spirit of America and exposes the real goal of the religious right. They want a theocracy.

The religious right wants to see the Ten Commandments in every courtroom not the Constitution. The Ten Commandments are a great set of laws for a religious setting and there aren’t any of them I oppose but they are not the rule of law. People should not go to jail for not honoring their father and mother anymore than they should do time for lying to a date to find out how their dinner companion’s right wing mind works. The Ten Commandments are great spiritual law but terrible secular law. The Bible is one of the greatest books ever written. A great book to draw inner strength, inspiration, and direction from but it is not the book that should be used to make public policy in a constitutional republic. The document that rules a constitutional republic like the United States of America is a constitution. We have a constitution and a pretty good one. What we need to do is stop mixing up the function of the great document of secular law with a great document of spiritual law.

Furthermore, many Americans are not Christians and though you would not know it by speaking to Pat Robertson, many Christians are not right wing. Thus allowing the Bible to become the document we look to for the rule of law only serves the Christian populace that has aspirations of an American theocracy. There are many millions of people that live in our country that are of many different religions or happen to not believe in any religion at all. These people need the protection of the Constitution along with a STRONG separation of church and state. To the Christians reading this, you already have the option of allowing the Bible to rule your personal life. I am not stopping you from using the Bible as your own rule of law. Do it. Just do not expect me and others to sit idly by while you try to make the Bible the United States of America’s rule of law. It is not only a bad idea; it is un-American and unconstitutional as well.