21 July 2010

California's changing view of the Golden Rule

I rarely plunge into the political realm but today I'd like to draw your attention to a post in today's Huffington Post by Diana Butler Bass. In addition to being a respected journalist/author, Bass is an active Episcopalian having converted a few years ago.

I draw your attention to her article, which is actually political rather than religious, because it deals with the changing attitude of Californians regarding marriage equality and equality in general which is both a religious issue and a Christian issue. (Please note that I differentiate between 'religious' and 'Christian'.)
A survey released today in California reveals change in voters' attitudes toward marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Less than two years after Proposition 8 restricted marriage to heterosexual couples, only one person in five now says that Proposition 8 was a "good thing" for California, and 51 percent would vote to allow same-sex couples to marry.
That is remarkable, but not that remarkable. I still believe many people who supported marriage equality voted incorrectly due to the confusion of "yes = no" and "no = yes" issues. I have acquaintances who said, after the election, that they'd voted for "gay marriage." When questioned about the vote itself, they said they voted yes on Prop. 8 - meaning, they voted against their intent. They were dismayed to learn they'd cast a vote opposite of their intention.

This is the bit I found most interesting in Bass' article:
Conducted by Public Religion Research, the poll took special note of voters' religious affiliations and attitudes. According to their findings, religiously unaffiliated voters, Latino Catholics, white mainline Protestants, and white Catholics are most supportive of same-sex marriage; while black Protestants, white evangelicals, and most especially Latino Protestants are most opposed. The biggest shift of religious support for same-sex marriage came among Latino Catholics, where many respondents said that their opinion had changed since Proposition 8 passed. Across all religious categories, ethnic minorities and young voters (both white and minority) moved to become "more supportive" of marriage for homosexual Californians.
It always amazes me that any group that has been the target of overt discrimination (Blacks and Latinos) are against equality for other groups and see no connection between the discrimination they have experienced and that in which they are engaging.

Bass believes the theological dimensions are the most telling aspect of the poll.
Particularly striking, however, are the theological dimensions of the poll. If Californians voted again tomorrow on same-sex marriage, they would vote in favor of same-sex marriage by a margin of 51%-45% -- an almost mirror reversal of the 2008 vote of 52%-48% percent against same-sex marriage. Interestingly enough, the new margin of 51 percent matches the fact that 51 percent of Californians now believe that sexual orientation is not a moral choice; instead it is an innate characteristic determined by birth. Only 41 percent think that sexual orientation is something other than biological.
That's interesting and it appears to reveal the loss of control the religious right wing have over their respective flocks. Gone are the days when the faithful are not only expected to toe the party line, but actually do toe the party line.