Speaking of religion, the current controversies over same-sex marriage are mostly derived from the hostility of religious institutions to the inclusion of lesbian and gay people in the “sacred institution” of marriage. Well, first of all, the role of the state should be limited to recognizing civil marriages — and, although it’s a long discussion for another time and forum, the state should not tie healthcare and other basic human rights to one’s being coupled or not. The state should not be involved in any way in whatever ceremony or rituals of commitment that religious institutions wish to honor and celebrate: Let them hold same-sex marriages or not; that’s what freedom of religion means. However, in the United States official recognition of couples — and the myriad state-conferred benefits and some costs attendant thereon — has long been held hostage to the politically vocal forces of religion.

In California, where irony could be the state trope, Gov. Schwarzenegger has just appointed a lesbian Democrat, Susan Kennedy, as his chief of staff. While the move has been viewed as a political tactic to shore up his crumbling popular support with some bipartisan mortar, it’s natural to wonder how Ms. Kennedy feels about her new boss’ recent veto of legislation that would have authorized same-sex marriage in California (the first such act passed by a state legislature in the U.S.). Not to worry. According to the L.A. Times, Ms. Kennedy is a protg of California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and “has argued against the ‘blind self-righteousness’ of activists who criticized Feinstein for saying that the push for same-sex marriages was coming too fast, too soon.” I’m sure the pope would agree, except of course, never would be too soon for gay marriage, or, for that matter, married, women or gay priests.