"Sexual orientation cannot, and must not, be the basis of a second-class citizenship," - Irish prime minister, Bertie Ahern, yesterday.

Ireland will soon legislate civil partnership rights for gay couples, the legal equivalent of marriage in the UK. What's fascinating to me is how two of the most historically Catholic countries in Western Europe, Spain and Ireland, are now in the forefront of recognizing gay civil equality. Italy and France are, however, less evolved. Perhaps the link between Spain and Ireland is that both countries endured many decades of Church-State collusion, allowing the Church to enjoy astonishing civil powers. The sex abuse scandal helped the collapse of the Church hierarchy's moral authority in both countries. But it's politicization that wounded both Spanish and Irish churches in the long run. There's a lesson there for America's Christianists. There is a price for conflating religion and politics. Eventually, it will come back to haunt you.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.