As of last Friday, New York is now the sixth and biggest state in the country to allow gay couples to legally wed. In fact, the marriage equality ruling in the Empire State has literally doubled the number of Americans who can enter same-sex marriages. That’s major.

Beyond the issue of gay marriage, homosexuality is still a hot-button topic in the African-American community. While many of us are gay, straight allies or somewhat ambivalent about same sex partnerships, others are vehemently opposed to the entire concept (some of those folks are gay as well, but we’ll save that discussion for another day). The New York ruling is about to make things a little bit more real for Black folks. While Black people make up 16 percent of the state’s population, there are over two million of us in NYC alone. We won’t be able to hide from gay marriage here.

New York’s influence is not to be discounted, and this new law will undoubtedly energize the national movement for marriage equality. While such measures will likely face swift defeat in certain states, you can mark my words: New York will NOT be the last state to let gays marry.

Loading the player...

With that, I realize that many of us (and people of other races, as well) have a hard time reconciling their religious beliefs about homosexuality with the idea that a state can allow a gay couple do something that they consider to be immoral. However, it is time for people to wake up and recognize the separation between church and state as mandated by the United States Constitution.

It may seem fair to use religion to battle law when there is a strong showing from other believers who support your cause. But we do a disservice to our own freedom by dismissing the fact that our government is obligated to keep faith away from the laws. The separation of church and state is not here to create a godless land, but rather, to protect your right to worship and follow God as you see fit. Without it, your churches, mosques and temples could be shuttered by government officials who wish to make their own faith the new law. It saves you from being legally barred from loving and worshiping God by rulers who could decide that religion has no place here.

Gay marriage laws will never require your church or anyone else’s to recognize marriage from a religious standpoint. You are free to oppose homosexuality as you wish, so long as you do not impose upon the rights and freedoms of others as you do so. It’s interesting that those same people who cry that God is displeased with our increasing tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality would likely fail to support legislation that makes adultery (not just the cheating kind, the ‘we ain’t married and we had sex’ kind), lying or greed illegal.

I can’t make anyone accept homosexuality. I can try, but I can’t force you. I can also pray for your acceptance of same-sex love, and I often do. It is certainly time to stop making anti-Constitutional rhetoric the rallying cry to prevent others from enjoying the rights and privileges of the law.