The week began with the braking story of Alan Chambers, head of Exodus International, telling The
Chambers has long been associated with the reparative therapy movement which has tried to convince gays that they are making a choice to be gay and that their gayness can be pushed out of their lives through prayer. Chambers apologized to the gay community for this past stance and said he now wants to devote his efforts to reconciliation.
In a speech to his ministry's annual conference also apologized admitting that the work of Exodus International has hurt people deeply and caused unnecessary pain. Chambers went on to say that Exodus had fought the culture war and lost! "It's time for peace," he said.
Exodus' power and influence had declined in recent years a reputable psychiatrists and psychotherapists rejected its approach and came to see homosexuality as a normal expression of human sexuality. It has reached the point that the only people still using reparative therapy are right wing evangelical and fundamentalist quacks.
Last year, Chambers who has acknowledged his own attraction to men though he is married to a woman announced he was trying to distance his ministry from the idea that gays' sexual orientation can be permanently changed or "cured."
In making the announcement that Exodus would close, Chambers announced a new ministry which he referred to as reducedfear.com "Our goals," he said, "are to reduce fear and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities."
Reaction from the gay community was generally positive though it was noted that some of Chambers' followers were starting a new group to continue to try to promote the idea that gays can be converted to straights.
It will take a while for real trust to develop between Chambers and his colleagues and those whom they have harassed for almost 40 years, but one has to give Chambers credit for the public admissions he has made about his change of mind and heart.
As for myself, I think one of the most important things he said was his admission that fundamentalists have lost the culture wars. Indeed they have and gays should not loose sight of that victory. Sure there will always be a few social morons who refuse to accept defeat just as there are still ass holes who cling to racial discrimination. Such people have no standing and no influence in the American culture as a whole. The time has arrived when evangelicals and fundamentalists must realize they are hurting themselves with their worn out arguments more than they are hurting gay Americans.
I thought it was significant this week when Fox News, an undoubtedly conservative institution reported that while those who felt homosexuality was morally wrong out numbered those who thought it was not by only 1%, a substantially higher percentage of Americans thought that gay people should enjoy equal rights and equal protections as those afforded to heterosexuals.
I think it is an unmistakeable sign that the American people have swung around 180∘ both in their views on homosexuality and their willingness to accept the rights of others to have and act on ideas and ideals that are different from their own.
Change continued this week when the Supreme Court struck down significant portions of the Defense of Marriage Act stating that is was a clear infringement of individual rights and equal protection under the law. The end of DOMA means that same sex couples who are legally married will receive Federal benefits equal to those received by heterosexual couples. It is without doubt one of the biggest social revolutions in the last 50 years.
True, the Court was sharply divided in a 5/4 decision, but close counts just as much a Court in full agreement. The law of the land has been dramatically changed.
The week continued with the Supreme Court striking down California's overturning of Proposition 8 which made same sex marriage legal in the state. Unlike the overturn of DOMA this California case does not impact other states directly. It does mean that 13 states now will recognize marriage between same sex couples as legal. For the first time in history, a full 30% of all Americans will live in a state in which same sex marriages are legal. That is indeed a social revolution.
Though I am not an enthusiastic supporter of President Obama, I thought it a nice touch that he called two of the principals in the California case even as they were being interviewed by the news media. See the following video.
We have truly come a long way from Stonewall. For those who may not recall, the Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. They are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for gay and lesbian rights in the United States.
At the time same sex activity was illegal in every state. Only the most radical homosexuals were out of the closet because anyone who admitted to being homosexual would loose their jobs, their families, their friends and most everything else they held dear.
The attitudes of Americans is radically different today. There is hardly a family that has not been touched by the homosexuality of a loved one as those coming out of the closet reached critical mass. Many Americans have for the first time had to consider that the queers are not "those people" but rather their own sons, daughters, fathers and grandsons. It has made a big difference.
As the more liberal churches have come to support homosexuals as persons loved by God; and indeed, made by God, the influence of radical Christians has begun to wane more and more.
It gets better all the time. It truly does. The trend will continue at an even faster pace in the wake of the Supreme Courts decisions this week. It gets better. It really does.