June 1, 2015

Cultural Shift on LGBT Equality

Rainbow flag breeze

In a provocative article for Falls Church News-Press, Wayne Besen explained how one's position on the question of same-sex marriage has become an important indicator of how people, nations, and even religions will be evaluated by others.
At once, it divulges whether a person, nation, or faith is modern, wise, and decent. Those who oppose marriage equality are often vulgar and mean-spirited.
Besen describes how this was not always the case. Blatant anti-LGBT bigotry, he notes, used to be widespread and positively evaluated. Thanks largely to religious indoctrination, children were brought up to value this sort of bigotry, regarding it as an essential aspect of their religious identity. Not surprisingly, the consequences of this religiously-motivated bigotry were significant.
During the incendiary culture wars of the past few decades, conservative religious groups sought to destroy the nascent LGBT rights movement. They spread lies, promulgated hate, and harmed countless LGBT people. These “moral authorities” abused their power and caused senseless tragedies by promoting “ex-gay” ministries, teen suicides, and opposite sex marriages that ended in painful divorces.
As we have all seen, more and more LGBT persons came out and spoke out. As they told their stories, their pain was undeniable and it forced all of us to come to terms with the consequences of the socially acceptable bigotry. We began to ask ourselves important questions (e.g., What good is a religion that preaches hatred toward one's fellow humans simply because of their sexual orientation?). It became virtually impossible for anyone to say they did not know someone who was LGBT. They were are friends, our neighbors, our co-workers, and our family members. We found that we cared about them as much as anybody else in our lives.

Slowly, we began to see LGBT characters on our favorite TV shows and films. On dramas, we found ourselves caring about these characters. On sitcoms, we found ourselves laughing with them rather than at them. With greater exposure, in real life and through media, something began to change. Our encounters with LGBT persons began to seem normal. We found ourselves relating to them as people and growing increasingly puzzled with those who refused to do so.
To be homophobic is to be viewed as stupid, dishonest, or politically opportunistic, as there is simply too much empirical evidence to continue to hold such anachronistic opinions. There is too much blood on the hands of politicians and religious institutions to continue down this destructive road.
If Besen is correct, blatant anti-LGBT bigotry is quickly becoming a liability for churches and politicians. With that in mind, here are a few recent stories from the world of politics and Christianity:
These stories make it difficult to argue that the culture wars are over and that the forces of equality have won. Progress is undeniable and same-sex marriage seems inevitable, but more work is needed to achieve full equality.

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