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Serial killers can legally marry, but not Harry and John?
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Where’s the outrage?

The laws of our land allow Charles Manson — convicted of orchestrating the murders of seven people — to wed behind bars.

Yet there are still 15 states where law-abiding individuals that include military personnel and veterans can’t marry if the person they love is of the same sex.

The future Mrs. Charles Manson —26-year-old Elaine Burton — knows she can’t consummate the marriage taking place possibly this weekend at Corcoran State Prison. California doesn’t allow conjugal visits for lifers. It doesn’t matter anyway. She contends the only reason she’s getting married is because as a wife she can be a better advocate for freeing Manson who she contends is a political prisoner.

How is that for making a mockery of the Judeo-Christian concept of marriage?

The divisive marriage debate should be ended once and for all, preferably by Congress.

That may be wishful thinking that Republicans —the party that likes to say they want to see minimal government interference in the lives of law-abiding citizens — would try to bring the matter to rest.

Right now, the issue is being treated and viewed as a states’ rights issue. In the 21st century with the amount of movement of Americans a sound case can be made for a uniform national law.

By tackling “marriage,” the next Congress could also help defuse friction between churches and states over the issue.

They can do that by striking all references to marriage from all federal codes and laws ranging from the Internal Revenue Service to Social Security and replace it with the words “civil unions.”

Then they can define civil unions as a legal partnership entered into by two adult individuals 18 years of age or older.

By doing so, it makes it clear the federal government will not enter the debate of whether churches can ban the marriage of gay couples. Let marriage stay a term employed for the religious blessings of partnerships and let civil unions serve all legal requirements as far as the federal government’s desire and need to classify the living status of people.

By splitting the two, you short-circuit a cankerous — and what has all the prospect of being a never-ending debate — about whether the government is violating the constitutional rights of religion being free of government control when it comes to fundamental beliefs.

Just because the courts have recognized same-sex marriage in 35 states on a case-by-case basis doesn’t mean it will or should be accepted by churches that exist within their jurisdictions. And while most states have gone out of their way to say it doesn’t, the use of the same terms to reference the status of a couple does nothing to assure practitioners  of religion that the state won’t try to force them to embrace gay marriage.

By making it clear that partnerships recognized by the government are civil unions and partnerships recognized by religious faiths are marriage it will go a long way toward stopping serious rifts.

Marriage is an institution first embraced by churches. It is for spiritual and moral purposes.

The government should be concerned only about issues regarding property rights, legal responsibilities and other things such as taxing and benefits. Marriage is actually an erroneous term to use for the government’s purposes as the entire reason for controlling how two people inter-relate is essentially for socio-economic reasons. Uncle Sam isn’t — nor should he be — concerned about the spiritual needs of individuals. In cold clinical terms the government recognizes civil unions and legislates accordingly.

Those who embrace various faiths can still have their values left intact.

And the government can still control how people conduct their lives in dealing with everything from contracts, children, to healthcare decisions.

It would be up to individual churches whether they embrace gay marriage.

At the same time there would be no theological basis for them opposing the government issuing everyone regardless of sexual orientation civil union licenses.

While those that are gay that obtain civil union licenses might rot in a forsaken place for eternity in the minds of some practitioners of various religions, it isn’t really their concern.

Likewise those who want nothing to do with religion and may seek to marry someone of the same sex will be treated no differently in the eyes of the government. If they don’t like the fact that in the eyes of someone’s God they don’t embrace or partially do will treat them differently, they simply need to get over it.

As for the lovebirds down in Corcoran, the state — and not a church — is recognizing them getting hitched.

Yet there is no outcry from those in religious quarters who have equated allowing gays to wed as the equivalent of making a mockery out of marriage.

It’s because state-issued marriage licenses have always been about civil unions.

It’s time to clean up the language and move beyond whether it is legal for same-sex couples to enjoy the same government benefits and responsibilities that anyone else entering into a civil union can.