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Keep Religion Out of Civil Marriage

March 8, 2004

We, the Board of Directors of the Atheist Community of Austin, resolve to condemn the interference of religious beliefs in the question of same-sex marriage. We are unaware of any compelling secular arguments against same-sex marriage, and in accordance with the principle of separation between church and state, no citizen may be denied any right because of the religious beliefs of others. In its recent decision affirming the right of any two consenting adults to marry, regardless of the gender (Goodridge et al. v. Dept. of Public Health et al.), the Massachusetts Supreme Court noted, "Simply put, the government creates civil marriage. In Massachusetts, civil marriage is, and since pre-Colonial days has been, precisely what its name implies: a wholly secular institution." Religious prohibitions on homosexuality are irrelevant here: Marriage is a concept of civil law, and while religious figures can be authorized by the state to perform marriages, no religious ceremony is required to validate a marriage. Whether in Massachusetts, in San Francisco, here in Texas, or elsewhere in the United States, we the Board defend that institution against any attempt to impose religious strictures on it, particularly ones that impinge on individual liberty and equal rights.

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