Marriage is a sacrament, God’s plan, and, according to President Bush, “a sacred institution.” To the Catholic Church and the fundamentalist Christian militants that form Mr. Bush’s core strength, marriage is a religious rite. If it is, we should recognize, as Vermont has, that commingling the sectarian and secular aspects of marriage permits government to intrude into religious belief in a manner we would never permit with baptism or prayer. The time has come to separate church and state.

Civil unions offer homosexuals the same deal society now offers heterosexuals: general social approval and specific legal advantages in exchange for deeper commitments to another human being. Like marriage, civil unions would foster social cohesion, emotional security and economic prudence without intruding on religious belief.

The president has commented on this issue to foment political and social divisions benefiting his re-election and to divert attention from his failed policies that have permanently lost 3 million jobs and produced economic stagnation, environmental violence and a weakened national security, while enriching the wealthy at the expense of hard working Americans.

Jon Albrecht, Dixfield

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