The U.S. Supreme Court should extend marriage equality nationwide, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.The high court announced this afternoon that it will hear four consolidated cases challenging the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. The practice is now legal in 36 states.Americans United Executive Director the Rev. Barry W. Lynn said it’s time for the court to make it clear that this issue won’t be settled on the basis of religion.“At times, the discussion over marriage equality in this country has sounded more like a debate among medieval clerics than deliberations in a modern, secular democracy,” Lynn said. “Opponents of same-sex marriage too often point to holy books and pronouncements by religious leaders to make their case. That might fly in a theocracy, but it should have no weight in America.”Added Lynn, “The United States is legally a secular republic based on church-state separation, and our policy on marriage must not be based on any church’s dogma.”The Supreme Court, Lynn said, should reject arguments put forth by Religious Right groups and the U.S. Catholic bishops. Those groups, Lynn charged, would like to base the nation’s marriage policy on controversial interpretations of scriptural passages. Americans United has filed briefs in marriage-equality cases in the lower courts, arguing for a policy based on secular legal principles.