Regarding your editorial urging the Maryland General Assembly to pass a same-sex marriage bill, I have to disagree ("A vote of conscience," Jan. 31). Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. The concept of separation of church and state was intended to keep the government out of religion, not to keep religion out of the government.

Religious arguments aside, the fact that openly gay individuals hold prominent positions in all professional fields demonstrates that there are no civil rights issues being violated. Even Christians as a group, who are among the most vocal opponents of the bill, accept homosexual individuals as human beings, even if we disagree with their lifestyle.

It is what the Bible teaches. That point was brought out repeatedly in the Marriage and Family Rally outside the State House this week.

Yes, there are those who call themselves Christians who are bigoted. But they are the exception rather than the rule, and they are acting outside the teachings of Christ. Unfortunately, it is the few bigots who receive all the media attention that present the public with a distorted view of Christianity.

Furthermore, marriage is no assurance that couples will have the right to represent their significant other in the event of incapacitation. The only way to assure that is though a legal power of attorney assigning that right. This entails a trip to a lawyer's office. For example, look at the Terri Schiavo case. How many years was that case in court before her husband was allowed to take her off life support? They were a heterosexual, legally married couple, but their marriage license wasn't much help to Ms. Schiavo's husband.

Regarding benefits, heterosexual couples, and even single, widowed or divorced individuals have the same issues with benefits that homosexual couples do. The only solution for that is diligence in keeping one's affairs in order, but diligence is independent of marital status.

An example of a cultural change that started out with good intentions but turned out badly was the no-fault divorce, which was intended to simplify the breakup of marriages. Instead it opened a floodgate of fathers abandoning their families, which in turn led to an increase in the number of families in poverty.

Another example: The Supreme Court legalized abortion in all 50 states. Many said this would bring about a situation in which every child who was born was wanted. Instead, over 48 million babies have been aborted, and child abuse is off the charts.

No matter what humans think, when we change God's design things become dangerous. There is nothing positive to be gained by passing a same sex-marriage bill, but much to lose.

LaVerne Cash, Bel Air