Washington Post columnist writes about her evolution on gay rights, supporting Obama

The Washington Post | By Valerie Elverton Dixon |Posted at 05:04 PM ET, 06/03/2012

My evolution on gay rights

President Barack Obama is seen on television monitors in the White House briefing room in Washington, Wednesday, May 9, 2012. (Carolyn Kaster – AP)

Some people have accused President Obama of political calculation in his evolution regarding same-sex marriage. I do not think his evolution was a political calculation because I have also evolved on the issue.

I have come to my opinions on LGBTQIA (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, and asexual) rights in general and same-sex marriage in particular from my own life and from my encounters with LGBTQIA people. When we come to consciousness of ourselves, we come to that realization of who we are as individuals within a historical context, within a place and time.

I once talked with a gay activist who explained the things that he could not do that heterosexuals take for granted–a picture of a beloved on a desk at work, casual conversation about one’s beloved, the ability to touch and show affection in public. Later when I held the hand of a man dying of AIDS in the hospital, not knowing how he contracted the disease, I knew that he and God wanted and needed my compassion and not my judgment. I talked with a lesbian about her love for a woman and how the male physique was off-putting to her. To each her own. I knew she ought to have the right to love who she wanted, how she wanted.

But, I had no Bible to support my views. Then I attended a conference sponsored by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights. I listened. The most important witness I heard at the conference was from Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr. He told of a member of his church who had been sexually assaulted, but since she was a lesbian, she was estranged from her family. As her pastor, it was his responsibility to care for her and to aid her recovery. He said that if he was going to be her pastor in Chicago, he was going to be her pastor all over the country and all over the world. I knew then that the biblical witness I needed was the witness of compassion and of justice.

When I taught at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, Centre, Massachusetts, the issue of same-sex marriage was boiling hot. I knew from my face to face conversations with LGBTQIA people that they were no less children of God than I, and they deserved equal protection under the law.

I needed Bible to give authority to my opinions. For me the Bible is the source of wisdom and of comfort. It is the blessed assurance that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Then the words of the song “Great is Thy Faithfulness” began to sing inside my mind. “Morning by morning new mercies I see.” It reminded me that God’s compassions do not fail. The song led me to the third chapter of Lamentations. There I also found the scripture that says that God will not reject forever and that “to turn aside the justice due a man before the face of the Most High or subvert a man in his cause the Lord does not approve.” (Lamentations3: 35-36 NKJV)

And then there is the Golden Rule. It says: In everything do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There are no exceptions here. So what could be a compromise? Civil Unions for all.

That was my position until I witnessed Andrew Sullivan’s tears.

Our tears come from some source deep inside our souls. They have a will of their own that does not listen to our minds thinking. They are a way to communicate with our soul self. They are another way to pray. Very often our tears bring clarity; they help us to see. Andrew Sullivan, the openly gay writer and Obama supporter said that his tears surprised even him. When he heard President Obama’s announcement that he supported marriage equality, he felt acceptance. The statement alone was important.

I recognized my own humanity reflected in Andrew Sullivan’s tears. It is in the recognition of our mutual humanity that we discover our mutual responsibility with the other. It is a responsibility we have to our common humanity. The acceptance of LGBTQIA people, the moral obligation to allow them the space to live their lives in righteousness and in truth, is not only political justice, but it is a spiritual necessity that will bring us closer to God by doing right by our LGBTQIA sisters and brothers.

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