I would like to take this opportunity to respond to Dale Bohling's letter of Dec. 2, (andquot;Prop. 8 protects marriage as it has been throughout historyandquot;). Mr. Bohling, through no fault of his own, I'm sure, has several of his facts wrong, and I would like to set the record straight on a few matters.

First, let me thank Mr. Bohling for comparing the gay community to both a garden hose and an electrical circuit; it is refreshing to see an entire group of thinking, feeling, rational people compared to such simple items.

Marriage has not always been andquot;between one man and one woman.andquot; One has simply to read Genesis 16, 29-30, or 1 Kings 1-11 to know that.

Moving on, I would also like to address Mr. Bohling's claim that andquot;religion has provided our once-fine nation the foundation on which it was built.andquot; This is patently untrue. The founding fathers of America did not build our country on religion, but on the fear of religion.

This is clear in the First Amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees that andquot;Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.andquot; Freedom of religion is placed before any of the other rights, even before our precious freedom of speech. That the founding fathers were religious men themselves is not in question here, but they understood the potential of religion: it is, simply put, the most powerful force in the world and that makes it, also, the most dangerous force in the world.

Religion has brought and will bring wonderful things into the world, and it has brought and will bring terrible things, as well. Nothing stirs the heart of mankind so much as religion, whether one's religion be Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, agnosticism or atheism.

My last point will be to address Mr. Bohling's question: andquot;How can it be demanded that people keep their faith to themselves ...?andquot;

I, and anyone else in this country, may demand that you keep your faith to yourself precisely because of the First Amendment. You are entitled to your beliefs, and to express them in a way that does not harm another. No one is entitled to express their beliefs in a way that infringes on the beliefs or rights of another; that is the foundation on which America was built.

Stephen D. Louy

Edinburgh, Scotland

(formerly Crescent City)