By John Mumper Special to Published Apr 02, 2013 at 12:32 PM Photography:

Growing up in some small communities of rural Wisconsin did not afford me the opportunity to get to know many gay people. It wasn’t until attending college, and later spending six years in the tour and travel industry, that I met people with lifestyles that challenged my own traditional views of sexual orientation.

To me, opposition to same sex marriage comes down to religion. If you remove religion from the equation, there is simply no sensible reason to deny someone the right to love another human being, regardless of sexual preferences.

Many people falling back on religious convictions will tell you that allowing same sex marriage will ruin the sanctity of marriage. They will tell you that only God can define marriage and he defines it as one man joining one woman.

But in reality, gay couples don’t care at all about destroying the sanctity of marriage. They care about being able to share benefits, use tax advantages, receive an inheritance and be at the deathbed of a loved one. They care about being afforded the same rights that all traditional married couples currently enjoy.

The religious objection fails to take into account core beliefs, other than God, that helped found this great country. In part, America was founded on the freedom to practice whatever type of religion one sees fit, free of government influence. Having tolerance for the beliefs and rights of others is what all Americans should strive to achieve. Using your beliefs to restrict the rights of others is wrong and is opposite what being an American is all about.

I want to make sure I emphasize that religion still has a critical place in our society. Having a moral code to live by that emphasizes right from wrong is important. I support the sense of charity, through giving, that religion fosters. Certainly, it’s better than no moral compass. I think we’re beginning to see what happens in society when people have no moral compass.

The bottom line is that if conservatives don’t accept what is clearly a shift in cultural and social views, then they should be prepared to lose future elections. The competition has "evolved." A recent ABC news poll showed that 81% of young Americans supported same sex marriage. Liberals are catering to a young voting bloc that is getting larger and more influential by the day.

However, the problems with defining marriage are not solely the fault of the religious right. Not even close.

Since there is no constitutional amendment and marriage is never specifically mentioned, many of the states have taken it upon themselves to define marriage. In fact, you will often see rallies and marches where scores of liberals will be showing support for same sex legislation on state ballots.

However, this very action glaringly reveals their hypocrisy on the issue.

You see, if you support Vermont’s right to define marriage in a way that supports same sex unions, then you must, YOU MUST, support North Carolina’s right to also define marriage in a way that outlaws same sex unions. What states specifically choose to do is irrelevant if you support a state’s right to define marriage.

If you choose to take different stances on the right of both Vermont and North Carolina to define marriage, then you are letting your personal politics define the issue for you. These same personal politics are what religious folks use when trying to exclude two people that love each other from getting married.

You see, the entire issue is muddled with people using personal politics and a lack of understanding of the Constitution. One side wants states to only have rights on issues they agree with, while the other side wants to use their religious freedoms to restrict the rights of others. Hopefully you can see the hypocrisy of both sides?

I support the right of Americans to marry whoever they see fit, free of government influence. Government shouldn’t be involved in marriage. Furthermore, there shouldn’t be any financial reward or penalty for being married. Taking away these advantages will take away the demand for certain Americans to no longer be excluded, and to be treated equally under the law.

One solution could be to create civil union legislation that guarantees same sex couples the same sweeping rights as traditional married couples. Gay civil unions can then pay taxes and be miserable like the rest of us (except for me, of course). This will also allow the term "marriage" to remain exclusively a religious term of one man and one woman, as defined by God.

The all-important sanctity of marriage would remain intact and everyone walks away with a compromise.

Denying someone the right to be happy is exactly the type of thing people left Europe to escape. Surely both sides can recognize their own political and religious bias and would be able put these aside to find a solution that is fair to ALL Americans?

I think I know the answer to that question.

John Mumper Special to

John Mumper is married with two young daughters. He was born in Wisconsin and grew up on various types of farms throughout the state. John was educated at UW-Whitewater with degrees in Political Science and History and has traveled extensively throughout the world.

Today, he works closely with various types and sizes of manufacturers and building products suppliers as an outside salesman. In his spare time, he enjoys the Milwaukee Brewers, Green Bay Packers, politics and brewing his own powerful beers.