While the clergy, the faithful and some self proclaimed moral politicians watch in horror, same sex couples continue to line up at San Francisco City Hall for a shot at taking the plunge. As the happy couples emerge from city hall in marital bliss, many complain that the holy sacrament of marriage is being demeaned. The truth is that the once sacred vow was soiled long before the frenzy in Frisco began. The damage the pious claim gay nuptials have wreaked on marriage pale in comparison to the ones inflicted by organized religions in their quest for earthly power. Marriage has been around in one form or another for nearly five millennia; by comparison, government participation in the union is in its infancy. In fact, it's the passionate desire of organized religions to merge with and control governments that has led to the festive atmosphere on the steps of city hall. The only reason governments can actually perform marriages is because believers in positions of earthly power have imposed their beliefs on their secular constituencies. The separation of church and state has become a figment of our collective imagination. Laws banning sodomy, gambling and prostitution are just a few examples of how religious beliefs have made it into the law books In America and elsewhere. The actions of organized religions when it comes to intrusion on governments has created a menacing merger for all of humanity. Religious leaders approve when governments imposes laws against gamblers and those who don't perform sex in the prescribed manner, but they are not as jubilant when the secular side of government rears its head and soils its sacred sacraments or traditions. To a humanist, government marriage is not a sacred ceremony, but a "living and breathing" law that can change in step with society's whims. Marriage in the eyes of the state is a contract between two people (or more in some places) that affords them certain rights and responsibilities; it is not as mainstream religions believe--a mechanism for breeding children and maintaining some semblance of moral order. In that atmosphere, a contract for civil union (AKA marriage) can be executed through and participated in by anyone regardless of religious beliefs, gender or sexual orientation. Most of the major religions view homosexuality (amongst many other things) as a sin. Science, much to the chagrin of the morally righteous, has pointed to the very real possibility that homosexuality has a lot more to do with genetics and biology than it does with conscious choice. All evidence leads to the conclusion that those with an attraction for others of the same sex are not only born that way, but are also definitely in the minority; otherwise, the human race would be close to extinction. This wouldn't be the first instance in history that a major religion was wrong in opposing or obfuscating a scientific fact. The fierce battle over same-sex marriage has moved from the demagoguery of the legislatures to the omnipotent power of the courts. Lawsuits are flying across the country, while lawyers ring up fees and judges play God. Even the President of the United States has weighed in, threatening to propose a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. This is a rather simple-minded approach and violates the spirit of the Constitution itself by invoking a religious sacrament. Modern technology would also make this amendment vague and spawn a myriad of new laws, such as: Is a transsexual considered to be of his previous or present sex? The legislatures would debate these issues ad nauseam, and the courts would be bogged down for years. The solution to the current "crisis" does not lie with more legislation or judicial decisions. The answer lies in the enforcement of the basic concept of separation of church and state. Organized religion should reclaim its right to its sacred sacraments and traditions. Governments that claim to be secular should have no right to perform sacraments or ceremonies steeped in religious traditions. Governments should have the right to validate and enforce contracts that afford all its citizens equal protection under the law, be it a will, trust or civil union. By the same token, the not so "righteous" and secular segments of society would greatly appreciate the removal of laws that do not necessarily protect them from force or fraud, but are based on antiquated religious dogma. These laws are remnants of past shameful if not sinful persecutions, that in many instances has and continues to punish even those who are guilty of no sin.