I am not a gay person, but I am what is referred to as a “straight ally”. Thus, while I can sympathize with and support LGBT causes, I cannot empathize. I cannot feel the brutalizing affront to my essential human dignity that is all too often the gay experience. Thus, I defer to the voices of others to name the feelings following election night victories and losses. Popular blogger Andrew Sullivan offers his succinct response to the narrow defeat in Maine and the narrow victory in Washington:
But I do want to point out that, from the perspective of just a decade ago, to have an even split on this question in a voter referendum is a huge shift in the culture. In Maine, where the Catholic church did all it could to prevent gays from having civil rights in a very Catholic and rural state, gays do have equality but may now merely be denied the name. The process itself has helped educate and enlighten and deepen the debate about gay people in ways that never happened before the marriage issue came up.
I am heart-broken tonight by Maine, and I’d be lying if I said otherwise.
Somehow losing by this tiny margin is brutalizing. And because this is a vote on my dignity as a human being, it is hard not to take it personally or emotionally. But I also know that the history of civil rights movements has many steps backward as forward, and some of those reversals actually catalyze the convictions that lead to victories. A decade ago, the marriage issue was toxic. Now it divides evenly. Soon, it will win everywhere.
I know for many younger gays and lesbians, this process can seem bewildering and hurtful. But I’m old enough now to be able to look back and see the hill we have climbed in such a short amount of time, and the minds and hearts we have changed. Including our own.
The Johannine account of Jesus’ call to follow me haunts me this morning. Why should we follow? Come and see, Jesus says. Come and see, repeat his followers, one to the next. But I wonder what the world sees when the Mormons in California and the Catholics in Maine work so stridently against human rights.
Vox Clamantis in Deserto. A voice crying in the wilderness. Against the shrillness of the powerful Vatican and much of American evangelicalism, the voice of progressive Christianity sometimes seem so still and so small. Yet, You will see greater things than these, promises Jesus. Forward we go. Forward we must.