Supporters of same-sex marriage agree with Internet blogger Austin Cline, who respectfully argues it doesn’t matter what someone’s personal feelings are about marriage, nor how important a particular definition of marriage happens to be within their religious system.

The government, he insists, is separate from and independent of anyone’s religion and must define marriage in a manner consistent with the secular principles upon which the government and the laws were founded 200-plus years ago.

Some religious groups do not allow the remarriage of people who have gone through civil divorce proceedings. Should the government therefore pass civil laws that prohibit divorce, or at least the remarriage of divorced persons?

If the separation of church and state means anything, Cline states, it must include the idea that people cannot be forced by the government to live according to the dictates of others’ religion, and vice versa.

Question 1 specifically states that churches will never be forced to perform or recognize marriages contrary to their beliefs. Indeed, just as the government is not obligated to define marriage along religious lines, religious groups are not obligated to define marriage along civil lines.

Opponents of same-sex marriage proclaim that civil unions are a viable alternative to marriage, that they offer “virtually” all the benefits of marriage. This is untrue. Separate-but-equal is never equal.

Proponents of marriage equality believe that all of us have the constitutional right to formally legalize and celebrate the most sacred of relationships. For some, this means vows can be witnessed in a church in the presence of clergy (sacramental marriage); for others, vows can be exchanged at city hall in front of a notary public (civil marriage).

Marriage is both a religious rite and a civil right.

We’re voting yes on Question 1.

Connie and Ray Winship

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