Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Faith Forward will document "the moral right of the religious left" in Minnesota's debate about marriage

Minneapolis, Minnesota

One must take a long view when foraging through the underbrush of societal views that treat gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people as second-class and unequal citizens in the eyes of the community and of the law.

When I spoke as an openly gay man at discussion forums in Lutheran churches in the early 1980s, some of the conversations were distinctly more civil than others. While it seemed possible then that passing an amendment to Minnesota's human rights act that banned discrimination could be within reach (we passed it in 1993), it required far-fetched thinking to believe that any Lutheran church body would ever ordain openly gay people (the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America said yes to that in 2009), or speak kindly of supporting their marriages (many do so in 2012). 

The tides of history favor full equality in the fullness of time. Navigating those tides, however, is neither a free ride nor a passive journey. 

A year ago, the Republican members of Minnesota's Senate and House of Representatives voted to place an amendment on the statewide ballot in November 2012. The amendment would ban same gender marriage. Some of the legislators voted based on honest conviction while others voted based on cynical political calculation. In the overall scheme of things, their various reasons really don't matter.

This is the year that we tell them "No, we are not going to do that." 

The Roman Catholic bishops of our state and their tax-free dollars are leading the charge in favor of the amendment, while the ranks of their parishioners are far from unanimous about it. A diversity of views also manifests among those of other faith traditions. Much of our discourse and the electoral outcome will turn on people's faith-driven beliefs and understandings.

Some of the discussion will be up close and personal. I met recently with a high school classmate who is now a Catholic priest and supports the amendment. Another classmate, who wears the cloth of the Methodist clergy, opposes the amendment.

A longtime Twin Cities journalist, Matt Peiken, has answered his call to inaugurate Faith Forward, a video project documenting the faith-based fight against the marriage amendment. He will not be highlighting the proponents as they have more than enough control over the levers of power and the media.  Rather, his focus will be on "the moral right of the religious left."

Peiken's efforts are a welcome addition to the campaign for equality and justice in Minnesota.

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