The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza argued this week that support for gay marriage is surging because more people know gay folks and because of the influence of television (and popular culture in general). I think we should give credit to the Religious Right.
In Oregon, we have been forced to debate a series of anti-gay ballot measures put forward by conservative Christian organizations since 1988. Those conversations – perhaps more than any other factor – have forced Oregonians to consider what it means to discriminate against those who are neighbors and family members. People “came out” to oppose these measures and that meant for the first time many of us met gay people (or realized we already knew them). It forced churches and other faith bodies to reconsider traditional teachings on marriage in the much the same way the Civil Rights Movement forced many churches to reevaluate Scripture – which had been used to justify slavery and Jim Crow, by some – and that process has lead many to conclude that God’s overarching call for love and compassion trumps ancient understandings of relationships (or even misinterpretations of Scripture). In a very real sense, part of the surge in support for marriage equality comes as direct – but obviously unintended result – of the anti-gay marriage movement (and anti-gay movement more generally).
Jerry Falwell, Pat Roberton and Albert Mohler may be America's greatest advocates for marriage equality - though I'm sure they didn't mean it to turn out this way.
P.S. Live in Oregon? Join the people of Sunnyside Church and University Park Church for Easter in Portland. All are welcome.