Twenty-two years ago, Reverend Oliver White founded Grace Community United Church of Christ in a low-income black neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota. It was a strong congregation with 320 members — until 2005, when White stood up at a synod of the United Church of Christ and voiced his support of gay marriage. Then he came home and told his congregation what he had done.
“I thought they were with me,” he says, “but much to my chagrin, I immediately started losing members.” Over the next few weeks, two thirds of his members left the congregation. […]
How did you become such a strong supporter of gay marriage?
You know, I’ve always felt this way. This is not something I’ve evolved into. I’ve always just felt that people are people. There are all kinds of different people — some are left handed, and others are right handed. Should we discriminate against people because they’re left handed?
That’s how I see it. Many of my friends happen to be gay, and some of my enemies, too. They all deserve the same rights I have in terms of being married, and the joys and benefits come along with that. I would not be inclined to be in relationship with another man, but it’s not for me to judge two men or women in a relationship. It’s about the freedom to love.
The people who left your congregation obviously believe that gay marriage is against the Christian religion. Which parts of scripture do they cite, and how do you read those same passages?
Most people who oppose homosexuality use biblical references found in Leviticus, which state that homosexuality is an abomination to God. Now, that’s a misinterpretation of that text. They really need to read further into it. In the same book of Leviticus, it states that if an unmarried woman is not a virgin, she can be put to death. We don’t put women to death for that reason nowadays.
The one law I quote frequently and try to conduct my ministry by is the one that Jesus gave: Love God first and then love your neighbor as yourself. And yet, we have laws in Minnesota in 2012 that say oral sex is a sin. You can go to jail for it. Come on people, wake up! Let’s get on with it!
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It’s time to tally up the betting pools and start paying out: If you picked Green Lantern as DC Comics surprise gay character you won. But depending on who was making your odds, you probably didn’t win much. As far as the speculation goes, the Green Lantern had been the favorite, mostly because rumors sourced to those in the know had been making their way around the Web for days saying as much.
At DC’s own blog, Alex Nagorski says the newly reimagined Alan Scott experienced “a traumatic event [that] will serve as the catalyst for him assuming his superhero identity as The Green Lantern.”
[Image: DC Comics]
One in ten. It’s the name of the group that puts on the Reel Affirmations gay and lesbian film festival in Washington, D.C., each year. It’s the percent popularized by the Kinsey Report as the size of the gay male population. And it’s among the most common figures pointed to in popular culture as an estimate of how many people are gay or lesbian.
What percentage of the population is actually gay or lesbian? A lower one than you might think — and a much, much, much lower one than most Americans believe.
In surveys conducted in 2002 and 2011, pollsters at Gallup found that members of the American public massively overestimated how many people are gay or lesbian. In 2002, a quarter of those surveyed guessed upwards of a quarter of Americans were gay or lesbian (or “homosexual,” the third option given). By 2011, that misperception had only grown, with more than a third of those surveyed now guessing that more than 25 percent of Americans are gay or lesbian. Women and young adults were most likely to provide high estimates, approximating that 30 percent of the population is gay. Only 4 percent of all those surveyed in 2011 and about 8 percent of those surveyed in 2002 correctly guessed that fewer than 5 percent of Americans identify as gay or lesbian.
It’s not easy to be gay in the Islamic Republic of Iran. A recent United Nations report decried ”harassment, persecution, cruel punishment and even the death penalty.” Because Islamic law requires four adult male witnesses to prosecute sodomy, Iranian police typically seek confessions, often through torture. Women, easier to convict, are given 100 lashes for each case. Outside of the legal system, LGBT Iranians face widespread and socially accepted discrimination, bullying, and an elevated risk of suicide, according to a UK-based study. “Loneliness is killing me,” a 27-year-old man from Qazvin told researchers.
So it was an act of special significance when a small group of young people gathered in a hilly park overlooking Tehran to show, for a few brief but public moments, their support for Iranian gay rights. It was far from the biggest LGBT rights rally on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia commemorating the World Health Organization’s 1990 decision to remove homosexuality from its catalog of mental diseases, but it carried its own significance.
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Too many people whose marriages are not up for debate have been griping that President Obama’s announcement was too little, too late. He’s endorsing federalism, argued Adam Serwer in Mother Jones. He’s championing state’s rights, complained left-of-center blogger Digby: “This is the essence of retrograde, reactionary politics and there’s a long history of these ‘sovereign’ states exercising their ‘rights’ to deny minorities their freedom.” Even House Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn was upset with the president’s approach. “I depart from the president on the state-by-state approach. If you consider this to be a civil right, and I do, I don’t think civil rights ought to be left up to a state-by-state approach,” he said Monday.
Such critics of Obama are wrong. They are wrong about what the administration has done and said, wrong on the politics of gay marriage, and — most important — they are wrong on the law.
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The first chart shows the rate of gay-marriage tweets per minute yesterday, which peaked at more than 7,000, just four minutes after the president’s own tweet.
The second shows the quantity of tweets referencing gay marriage since Obama’s inauguration. As you can see, yesterday the volume spiked, topping out around 1.6 million tweets, breaking the previous record from the night New York legalized gay marriage (which was, it should be noted, late at night on a Friday).
This week, voters in North Carolina, where same-sex marriage was already prohibited, passed a constitutional amendment against the practice, while President Obama, who wields no direct power over state marriage laws, finally affirmed that he favors full marriage rights for gays and lesbians.
These were both symbolic moves. Social conservatives assert that North Carolinians were standing up for traditional marriage while Obama was betraying it, an analysis that they earnestly believe.
But there’s something they don’t understand.
Gays in North Carolina and everywhere else in the United States are never returning to the closet. Gay couples are going to be on television sitcoms, in movies, and dining at downtown restaurants on Saturday nights. Kids are going to have gay friends in school, and they’re going to have straight friends with gay parents. As older people die and kids grow into teens and adults, acceptance of gays as normal is only going to increase. The question that remains is how these gay couples are going to live. When they live together or raise children together, are they going to marry?
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The fortuitous timing of President Obama’s announcement on same sex marriage meant that it came during Shepard Smith’s show on Fox News, giving him the first incredible reaction on the network. Shep played the clip of Obama’s statement that was aired on ABC, then declared: ”the President of the United States, now in the 21st century.” Then while discussing the clip with reporter Brett Bair asked if the GOP could campaign on the issue ”while sitting very firmly, without much question, on the wrong side of history on it.”