We have experienced a storm of letters relating to the passage of Proposition 8 in California, but one major issue has been slighted: the difference between religious and civil marriages.

The former should be determined by the particular religion that is conducting the ceremony, and rightly so. But why should any religion have anything to say about who gets married to whom in a civil ceremony completely devoid of any aspect of any religion?

The Bible is frequently quoted in the letters regarding marriage; to wit, the main object of a union is to procreate and homosexuality is an abomination. But why is the Bible the authority? We are not a Christian nation.

"God" does not appear in the U.S. Constitution or the Bill of Rights. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and James Madison were all deists, while Thomas Jefferson denounced the "superstitions of Christianity." Finally, the Treaty of Tripoli, which was unanimously ratified by the Senate in 1797, states: "As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion … ."

So why shouldn't gays be allowed to marry in civil ceremonies?

Kermit Heid

Salt Lake City