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Religion Is Our Friend

Posted on November 12, 2013 at 4:50 PM

The gay community has historically seen religion as the enemy. And why not? Religious leaders have been the loudest anti-gay voices over the years, and religious people have gone to the polls in droves to vote for “values,” and against our rights. In 2004 the antipathy among the religious to the prospect of gay marriage brought out enough voters to re-elect George W. Bush. However, an article in The Atlantic tells us that the story has dramatically changed over the past few years.

 

During the past decade more and more gay rights advocates came to this conclusion: “If gays were the only people who cared about gay rights, they would lose.” People of faith dominate American society, and an “us vs. them” strategy was doomed to failure. And so several gay leaders and organizations began an organized outreach to the religious community, a movement that has been largely underreported. The Atlantic article talks about that movement, and gives it a large amount of credit for the societal shifts of the past few years. Today 57% of Catholics and 55% of mainline Protestants support marriage equality, far higher than the percentages in 2004. Without that shift we would not have achieved marriage rights in the increasing number of states that now offer those rights.

 

The future lies in that direction as well. "I hope the larger progressive community is beginning to understand that we need people of faith for all of our struggles,” says Alan van Capelle, head of New York’s Empire State Pride Agenda. “Once they are organized, they are an incredibly powerful force for change." There’s a lot more to the story, and it’s worth reading.

 

As an aside, the comment section following the article reinforces my growing feeling that comment sections in general are useless. There are hundreds of comments, but intelligence, rational exchange of ideas, and genuine humanity are nowhere to be found.

 

----Dennis Stone

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2 Comments

Reply Hue-Man
6:25 AM on November 15, 2013 
Before anyone starts handing out rainbow medals to cardinals and archbishops, LGBT individuals and groups have done nearly 100% of the heavy lifting, including the "outreach" made to religious communities. Leadership of the catholics or the anglicans/episcopalians was and continues to be against marriage equality and things are little better most other religious sects (the recent marriage debate in England brought out the worst homophobes in many religious groups). Individual church members may have changed their opinions of "same-sex" marriage over the course of the 21st century; that change means that they no longer automatically take anti-gay positions in the voting booth.

Where LGBT commenters could do better is to stop automatically criticizing members of religious sects on LGBT issues. Being one of the 44% of the population of my province who claims "none" as his religion, I look at it as a matter of personal choice; I don't criticize people for their religion any more than I criticize people who like red instead of blue! Like all stereotypes, it's unhelpful and almost always untrue.
Reply Ulysses Dietz
7:48 AM on November 14, 2013 
Yeah, I hear you about comments sections - except on sites like this! I found my way back to mainstream religion (Episcopal) only because I was invited by a minister and was assured that not just was I welcome as a gay man, but my Jewish partner (now husband) was welcome as part of my family (with no pressure to convert). This religious community has been incredibly supportive for 27 years, and has grown in ways I would never have imagined when I was young and walked away from the church.