SACRAMENTO—Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopalian Bishop who served as President Obama's adviser on gay issues, came to Sacramento to support a state senate bill that seeks to clarify the separation of church and state with regard to gay marriages.
San Francisco State Senator Mark Leno's SB 906 would ensure clergy members right to choose whether or not they want to preside over same sex marriages. It also protects churches from losing their tax exempt status for taking a stand on gay marriages.
"The state of course has no business in religious marriages," said Leno.
Bishop Robinson, who has been married to a man for 22 years, says it's the church which is over stepping its bounds. He said marriage is a civil contract like a divorce.
"When a marriage comes to an end, one does not go to the church, the synagogue or the mosque. One goes to the courts," said Robinson.
But some argue that church and state are inseparable when it comes to same sex marriage. Randy Thomasson, the president of Save California and an opponent of gay marriage says the bill is unnecessary and is a sinister attempt to get support for another attempt to legalize same sex marriages under the guise of religious freedom.
"It's a ruse, it's a trick, it's a hoax," said Thomasson.
He said same sex marriages would trample on the rights of religious business people who would have to insure same sex partners for instance. He also said parents would lose the right to decide on what their children are taught in school about the propriety of gay couples and marriages.
"Marriage is both a civil and a sacred institution and it is very difficult to separate the two and those who try often end up messing up the institution," said Thomasson.
He sees the bill as an attempt to whittle away opposition against a planned initiative to legalize gay marriages that will go on the ballot in 2012. Gay rights groups admit that is their goal, but say they hope the outcome will be different than Proposition 8 after voters are educated on the merits of same sex marriages.