This evening I went to a marriage equality rally outside of my town’s courthouse. The first speaker was the pastor of one of a local Christian church. She started her address by saying that she wants to challenge the common conception that being Christian meant being anti-gay. She talked about her church’s history as an LGBTQ-friendly congregation. She talked about how nervous LGBTQ individuals often feel when first attending a service at her church, looking around, fearful of condemnation before finally being able to relax.
Then I came upon this graphic on facebook. It lays out support for—an opposition to—marriage equality by religious group in the United States. The numbers used are from 2011.
Note that the only religious groups whose adherents are more likely to oppose marriage equality than support it are black Protestants, Mormons, and white evangelicals. More Catholics and mainline Protestants support marriage equality than don’t, and Jews are more likely to support marriage equality than are those who are unaffiliated. And for that matter, a full 20 percent of evangelicals themselves strongly support marriage equality.
Evangelicals are very good at controlling the conversation and framing the questions. The paint a world in which atheists simply hate God and a world in which marriage equality is something being forced on on unwilling and victimized Christians. Neither is true. I personally think it’s important to counter these mistaken narratives. Why? Well for one thing, because evangelicals stand to benefit if they can convince people that the push for marriage equality is a war “the homosexual agenda” is waging on Christianity. But if it’s clear that there is actually disagreement within Christianity—that there are Christians who fully support LGBTQ rights and believe that marriage equality is God’s will—well, that changes the story an destroys the evangelical narrative.
I also think we need to remember that marriage equality is not the only LGBTQ rights issue. I think it became the centerpiece in the discussion in part because it is such an emotional appealing issue—who can be against love?—but I think we need to remember that it’s not the only battle out there. There are also basic things like access to healthcare and protections against housing and employment discrimination.
And as a side note, my (straight female) friend and I definitely got mistaken for a lesbian couple by a reporter at the rally this evening. Now that’s not something that’s happened to me before!