For most gay Americans in the 20th century, the church was a place of pain. It cast them out and called them evil. It cleaved them from their families. It condemned their love and denied their souls. In 2004, a president was elected when religious voters surged from their pews to vote against the legal recognition of gay relationships. When it came to gay rights, religion was the enemy.
A decade later, the story is very different. Congregations across the country increasingly accept, nurture, and even marry their gay brethren. Polls show majorities of major Christian denominations — including American Catholics, despite their church’s staunch opposition — support legal gay marriage. Leaders of some of the most conservative sects, like the Southern Baptists, have moved away from the vitriolic rhetoric of yesteryear and toward a more compassionate tone. Mormons march in gay-pride parades. A sitting Republican senator, a Methodist from the heartland state of Ohio, says the question was settled for him by “the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.” A new pope says, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
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Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry’s founder and president, said it’s important to keep up the momentum in favor of same-sex marriage. “The only thing I come close to worrying about is that people think it’s going to take care of itself,” Wolfson, a veteran activist and litigator who has been working for gay marriage for three decades, told me. “I am very confident we’re going to get there, but it just doesn’t do itself. We have to do the work.”
Three states voted to legalize gay marriage in November 2012 — Maine, Maryland, and Washington — while another, Minnesota, voted against a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage in the state. It was the first time such an initiative had been voted down; the Supreme Court recently invalidated California’s ban, known as Proposition 8, but 29 states still have constitutional bans on gay marriage.
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The Supreme Court made history this morning. Celebrate by reading Jonathan Rauch’s ‘Denial’, a stirring memoir about self-discovery.
The conflict over the next six days played out as a very gay variant of a classic New York street rebellion. It would see: fire hoses turned on people in the street, thrown barricades, gay cheerleaders chanting bawdy variants of New York City schoolgirl songs, Rockette-style kick lines in front of the police, the throwing of a firebomb into the bar, a police officer throwing his gun at the mob, cries of “occupy — take over, take over,” “Fag power,” “Liberate the bar!”, and “We’re the pink panthers!”, smashed windows, uprooted parking meters, thrown pennies, frightened policemen, angry policemen, arrested mafiosi, thrown cobblestones, thrown bottles, the singing of “We Shall Overcome” in high camp fashion, and a drag queen hitting a police officer on the head with her purse.
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TAMMY BALDWIN, the Senator-Elect from Wisconsin, will become the first openly gay person ever elected to Senate. MAZIE HIRONO, the Senator-Elect from Hawaii, will become the first Asian-American woman in Senate. TAMMY DUCKWORTH, the Representative-Elect for Illinois, will become the first disabled female veteran elected to the House of Reps. (she lost both her legs in the Iraq War).
The Malaysian government has begun organizing seminars aimed at helping parents and teachers identify latent homosexuality in children, according to Singapore news outlet AsiaOne. One of the principal warning signs? V-neck T-shirts. It’d be sort of funny if it weren’t rooted in a wildly un-self aware bigotry.
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When President Obama ditched “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” last September, ripples went global. One crossed the Atlantic and found its way to a dance studio in South Africa. There, it reached a young choreographer struggling, at that very same moment, to decide how—and if—he wanted to do a show about his own country’s troubled, long-repressed relationship with gay men in the military. This bit of news from America helped him decide, giving him not just the confidence to proceed with the project, but also proof of something he’d already suspected: that this was an issue that transcended national borders.
The resulting show, Moffie, debuted in Grahamstown at the National Arts Festival last month, to equal parts anticipation and controversy—and not just because the full-page ad in the front of the festival program featured a very naked, hard-muscled man with a rifle dangling over his privates.
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This morning, Washington United for Marriage announced a gift of “historic” proportions: $2.5 million from Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, of Amazon fame and fortune, to go toward efforts to pass Referendum 74, which would legalize same-sex marriage in Washington, where the online retailer is based. With that one gift, the Bezoses have joined the ranks of the top financial backers of gay marriage in the country.
Why the sudden large check? The New York Times reports that the gift came as the result of a request from one of Amazon’s earliest employees, Jennifer Cast, a volunteer for Washington United for Marriage and a mother of four children she is raising with her longtime partner.
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