Of course, this is nonsense; almost all of our laws, from criminal to civil, are based on the assumptions of some sort of religious dogma. If you want rational laws, look at traffic laws. Europe, who we like to mock and deride for their outmoded cultural traditions, is far more firmly rooted in secularism than is the United States. In fact, it's fair to say that we are the most religious nation in the First World, and indeed one of the most religious in the whole world; only in Islamic fundamentalists states do you hear so much vaporing about God from politicians. It's far easier to imagine America electing a President who is black, or female, or Jewish, or even homosexual, than it is to imagine us electing a President who doesn't believe in God, or at least who doesn't feel it neccesary to mouth pieties as if he did.
A perfect example of this is the President's recent position on gay marriage. Now, there's a reasonable expectation that the Pope will make public condemnations against homosexuality. Why? Because the pope is a crazy old man who believes that he is the hand-picked representative of a magical genie who lives in the sky and tells people how to behave or else he will set them on fire. But the President is, at least theoretically, the elected representative of a nation of 300 million people with an extremely diverse range of beliefs and ethics. We did not hire him to make fatuous pronouncements about sin.
In a rational, secular society, no one would give a shit about what the President thought of gay marriage; certainly, in a rational, secular society, the President would not dream of making his opinions on the subject public, because he would correctly assume that it was outside his purview. I am no more interested in the President's opinion of gay marriage than I am of his opinion of the Wu-Tang Clan. And yet, there he is, on my television set, urging a legal ban to gay marriage and talking about sin and forgiveness.
In truth, even from a strict Republican viewpoint, this whole issue is a bunch of nonsense. Conservatism was once meant to stand for keeping the government out of peoples lives; unfortunately, since the Reagan Revolution, this has been interpreted to mean keeping the government out of peoples' financial lives, while giving them free rein to run roughshod over their social lives. Furthermore, the existence of gay marriage would in fact strengthen a lot of Republican value-sets. Married couples, gay or straight, are more likely to buy property; they are more likely to have children; they are often more conservative; they add to the tax base, they pool their incomes (leading to more money to spend); and they tend to be more concerned with the G.O.P.'s bread-and-butter issues, like property taxes, freedom of movement of capital, and increased development. A gay married couple, no less than a straight one, cares about family, about property, about stability -- and that makes them more likely to listen to a Republican argument. A secure, stable gay couple with a child is a lot more likely to vote Red than is a childless man and a woman who aren't married.
The G.O.P., indeed, have always supported initiatives like this; they're all for expanding the franchise of marriage, for rewarding people for having children (up to a point, of course), and for supporting the codification of social norms -- because it is in their best interests to do so. Rationally, they have a lot to gain by encouraging gay marriage.
So what's the President doing on my TV? Simple: rational ain't got nothin' to do with it.