Sunday, June 26, 2005

The End of the Gay Marriage Battle?

A post at a message board I look at regularly reported a piece of news the other day which I haven't seen anywhere else. I mention it here, because the poster believed that the significance of the news was vast - that in years to come, it could be seen as a watershed in the Southern US evangelical crusade against homosexuals.

At its convention this week, the Southern Baptist Convention ended its boycott of the Disney corporation. Interestingly, the page linked to above marks out a number of dissenting voices from the boycott in the first place - especially this passage (if, admittedly, not from the SBC itself):

An editorial in the Post-Tribune, Gary, IN commented that unless the SBC were willing to boycott all companies that give equal rights to gay and lesbians, by boycotting "IBM and Apple computers, quit using Microsoft, Borland and Lotus software, cut up their ATM cards for Bank of America, quit cheering for the San Francisco 49ers and say no to their kids who want to see "The Lost World: Jurassic Park," the blockbuster by Universal Studios, then their action against Disney is nothing more than mean-spirited bluster."

Yet whether "mean-spirited bluster" or not, the boycott was undoubtedly symbolic of discrimination against homosexuals. Thus, the removal of the boycott is also symbolic - despite protestations to the contrary, it suggests that the opposition of extending equal rights to homosexuals is something of lessening importance.

Now, I don't know the full details of the reasons behind the adoption of the new resolution, or that much about the organisation of the SBC (although the individual churches within the Convention hold considerable autonomy, and resolutions cannot be forced upon them). Obviously, they're not going to start promoting homosexuality. Yet if they are taking the first steps towards dropping their campaign for legal and political persecution of gays and lesbians, then there could be a real change in the way that "values" politics are presented in the US. I'll finish by quoting some of the original post that I read:

The membership of this large fundamentalist denomination (of which I am a member) had grown increasingly distant from its' leaders anti-gay policies, because, frankly, so many people in the church have family members, friends, or coworkers who are gay, and the dichotomy between words and actions was immense.

The reason this is worth remarking on is that the SBC is the core, the real core, of Republican support in the Christian Right Wing. Now that they have embraced reality, I don't think it will be just a matter of years before the whole Republican party drops its homophobe bias. You can bet that the whole "sanctity of marriage" crowd in Washington has gotten some puckered rears tonight.

I would think that, quietly, slowly, you have just heard the end of opposition to gay marriage in the U. S., and to a host of other measures --- not overnight, but within a few years. The leopard just changed its spots.