Facts and trends are presenting a different case.
So far in the voting on amendment B,
- 69 presbyteries voted for equality (compared to 46 in 2001-2).
- This includes 48.6% of the popular vote among individual commissioners.
- Of the 157 presbyteries that voted, 110 demonstrated a pro-LGBT shift.
This year, a record number of local church bodies voted for inclusion of our GLBT brothers and sisters in the ordained leadership of the Presbyterian Church. And although the amendment did not pass, the conversation has changed forever.Since this time last year we have witnessed big advances for equality in both the ecclesiastical and civil realms.
- In June 2008, the PC(USA) voted that the Authoritative Interpretation of 1978 has no longer any force or effect.
- Individual states (Vermont, Iowa, and others) are moving toward civil equality in marriage.
We are not there as a society or a church. But we are getting there.
This is from Forbes magazine regarding recent polls:
Just since 2000, 47% of Americans have said yes to legally sanctioned gay and lesbian unions compared to 55% today.
Answers to other survey questions about homosexuality do show greater acceptance.
For example, should homosexuality be legal? Forty-three percent gave that response to Gallup in 1977; 55% did in 2008.
Should homosexuality be considered an acceptable alternative life style? Again from Gallup, 34% agreed in 1982, 57% do today.
Should homosexuals have equal rights in terms of job opportunities? Fifty-five percent said yes in 1977, 89% in 2008.
And what about gays in the military? Two-thirds support it, up about 10 percentage points from a decade ago.
Attitudes on two sensitive subjects in the past, hiring homosexuals as elementary school teachers and gay adoption, have changed too.
In 1977, 27% of poll respondents told Gallup that homosexuals should be hired as elementary school teachers; 54% said that in 2005.
Forty-six percent supported adoption rights for gays and lesbians in 2000, and 53% do today.
Beyond that, two-thirds or more now say that inheritances, Social Security benefits, health insurance and hospital visitation should be available to gay and lesbian partners.
Most polls about civil unions date to the beginning of this decade.
In February 2000, a Princeton Survey Research Associates/Newsweek poll found that 47% of respondents said there should be legally sanctioned gay and lesbian unions or partnerships. In December of last year, 55% gave that response.What accounts for the growing acceptance?
Six in 10 people polled told Gallup last year that a friend, family or co-worker had told them he or she was gay--and familiarity fosters acceptance.
That I think is a good indicator for the change in voting patterns regarding amendment B this year as compared to 2001-2.
We can interpret these changes in attitude as a move toward equality and against prejudice.
Or, we can interpret these changes in attitude as the devil's work corrupting our morals.
It is pretty clear that whatever the opinion, the PCUSA is moving along with the tide.
For those like myself who see this change as positive and who work for it in the civil and in the ecclesiastical worlds, we think the method of advocating legislative change is going pretty well.
- It provides the best opportunity available to change hearts and minds.
- It encourages individuals to speak and to work toward removing discriminatory barriers.
- It reflects the trend toward equality in church and society.