Like many in the non-religious community, I was outraged by the passage of Proposition 8 in California, which banned gay marriage there. It was nothing less than the denial of a basic civil right by enshrining a specifically religious viewpoint into law – a stark reminder of the potent power of faith to cause hardship and derail progress even today.
Still, I see reasons for guarded optimism. At the least, we should recall that states are clearly divided on the issue, which should dampen pressure for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, a prospect seriously raised not too long ago.
More important, opposition has progressively waned as time has gone on, with polls showing highest support among the future electorate. This augurs well for the gay marriage down the road, though it’s cold comfort for gays understandably indignant at present-day discrimination.
To the extent that Christians were heavily involved in passing Prop 8, I think their image will suffer further damage. Already, protests are being waged against churches in California whose involvement was influential in the proposition’s success. Mormons and Catholics, two denominations in particular that poured many resources into the pro campaign are currently experiencing difficulties retaining members, and can only be further damaged by a negative backlash. Polls show Christianity is increasingly seen in a negative light, with even many younger Christians bothered by its overt anti-gay agenda. A decline in Christian numbers and influence, accelerated by the passage of Prop 8, can only mean good news for gays in the long term.