We need to repaint the lane lines on Church and on State. The boundaries are getting dangerously blurred. When is it simply exercising one's personal religious beliefs, and when is it a violation of someone's civil rights?
Sarah Palin recently ranted about how the founding fathers did not believe in the separation of church and state; the first amendment notwithstanding. She objected to President Obama making a comment that "America is not a Christian Nation." (It is not. Neither is it a Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, etc. Nation)
In the early 80's and 90's, the "Religious Right" made a concerted effort to get "good, Christian" men and women involved in various governmental bodies--school boards, city councils, state and federal legislatures, etc. They felt that these "good Christians" would then make laws and decisions based on their conservative values, and reverse changes they felt were against God, like the right to an abortion or invalidating sodomy laws.
That is all fine and good. While I may not agree with their ideals they are perfectly within their rights (or lane, if you will) as American Citizens. However, these people are starting to become road hogs.
The religious conservatives in their various offices of power now exercise their power at the expense of many groups, especially LGBTs. Take the case of Clay Greene and Harold Scull in Sonoma County, CA. Harold and Clay were together for 25 years when Harold fell and broke his hip. Preparing for the future, the men had drawn up wills, healthcare proxies, advanced directives and whatnot that each designated the other as the person to make health decisions if he was incapacitated. County officials ignored this paperwork, misrepresented the relationship to the court and took control of all that the men had amassed in their time together, without trying to determine who owned what. They then terminated the lease, auctioned off all of the men's posessions and put them in two separate nursing homes. Harold later died in the home he was housed in, and Clay was not allowed to see his partner to comfort him or say goodbye. The National Center for Lesbian Rights has joined with Clay to sue the county and its officials who made these decisions. While this story is horrific enough, Joe.My.God has evidence that one of the county officials named in the complaint has links to evangelical Christianity, which is notoriously anti-gay. (Ok, the evidence might not stand up in court, but it is suggestive.)
There is also a case making its way to the Supreme Court about whether a school-based Christian law group has to admit gays. The school says that any officially school-recognized groups have to allow any student who wishes to join. The Christian Legal Society at Hastings College says that forcing them to take gays and non-believers violates their first amendment rights. This case could have a large impact on how non-discrimination policies across the board are enforced, not just the educational policies, but also in various federal funding and public policies as well.
Where is the line that separates the Church from the state? Is it in a state official acting according to his own personal interpretation of the laws based on his beliefs? Is it in federal laws that force private organizations using public funds to abide by nondiscrimination laws? The right to swing your fist ends at my nose. Where does my nose end and your fist begin?