While we’re talking about God, sex, and marriage, let’s talk about…um…er…same-sex marriage.
Here’s a poll (or at least part of a poll) that came in the mail recently to my house.
If you had three choices regarding the laws governing same-sex marriage, what would you choose?
1. Same-sex couples should be allowed legally to marry.
2. Same-sex couples should be allowed legally to form civil unions but not marry.
3. Same-sex couples should not be allowed to obtain legal recognition of their relationships.
Now as you all know, this summer California became the second state, after Massachusetts, to make marriage licenses available to same-sex couples. And if you’ve been following the campaign news closely you’ll notice that neither Barack Obama nor John McCain seem particularly comfortable talking about gay marriage as a campaign issue. NPR aired a story this past Monday containing statements made by each candidate, in public forums.
In the past Obama has said that he opposes gay marriage but that every state should be allowed to decide the issue on its own. He has changed his mind in recent months saying that while he opposes same-sex marriage, he supports civil unions and domestic partnerships between same-sex couples.
As for McCain, well after receiving lots of pressure from big guns like James Dobbs of “Focus on the Family” and other leading conservative evangelicals who complain that McCain has been reticent about talking about issues that motivates grassroot conservatives (you guessed it, abortion and homosexuality), McCain sent a short statement back in June to the “Protect Marriage” campaign, one of the conservative groups spearheading an effort to amend the state Constitution in November and define marriage as between a man and a woman saying that he supported the efforts of the people of California to recognize marriage as a unique institution between a man and a woman.
What folks on this blog probably don’t know is that the great untold story of the 2004 presidential elections was the black evangelical vote. Conservative Republicans figured out in 2004 that to get their man George Bush back into the White House they needed to inflame black’s anti-gay bias. Although black evangelicals still voted overwhelmingly for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, blacks gave Bush the cushion he needed to bag Ohio and win the White House. What did it? Opposition to gay marriage. A national coalition of religious conservative groups, which included Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, and the Family Research Council, formed in early 2004 to defend traditional marriage. Conservative blacks were key to their strategy.
In case you failed to get the memo, word has it that in 2008 a new younger crop of evangelicals has come on the scene. Young evangelicals who can not be easily pegged by pollsters nor easily manipulated by politicans. Young evangelicals who are passionate about a broad platform of issues, and not just the grassroots moral issues of their parents, abortion and homosexuality. Conservative icons like Jerry Falwell and James Dobson are being replaced with kindler, gentler faces like those of Rick Warren and Brian McLaren who, though socially conservative, are determined to market themselves as compassionate and generously involved in lots of issues (HIV/AIDS, poverty, the environment), and have shown that they are willing to engage in conversation with people with think and believe differently. Both McCain and Obama are glad for friends like Rick Warren who give them the chance to bypass the old guard of conservative leaders and speak directly to “open minds” of young evangelicals. That’s young, white evangelicals, in case you were wondering.
Where do young black evangelicals figure in all of this? Who cares? No one, from what I can tell. That’s probably because everyone assumes that young black evangelicals are an uncomplicated lot. Even if they oppose same sex unions, as many assume they do, race trumps theology which means Obama can count on their vote. But is that true? How much does homosexuality and same sex marriage matter to this generation of African American churchgoers? What say you who admit here on the blog to playing hooky from bible study to get home to watch “Sex and the City”? You’re a pretty complicated lot to me. Like me, you wring your hands over the risky sexual behavior of our teens. Some of you say that it doesn’t make sense to teach abstinence, and that protection and good judgement is the better church curriculum for teens. A few of you even share some of my old-fashioned notions of marriage, at least the notion that what we are witnessing is a generation of young people gone wild from being raised in an environment that believes sex is a god, being sexually satisfied is an inalienable right, getting pregnant outside of marriage is unfortunate, but not a calamity, and that marriage is optional. So, do your broad, generous attitudes toward heterosexual marriage and sex extend to homosexual unions and the efforts by lesbians and gays to see to it that their unions enjoy the same protection and rights of as heterosexual unions?
Knock. Knock. Who’s there? The conservative white evangelicals who will surely try to figure out a way to corral just enough Blacks this Fall to swing the presidential vote in the direction they want and get religious conservative black folks to join them, their nominee, and God in their campaign to save America from gays, unwed mothers, and all those who have sex any way other than the way God intended. Whatever way that is.