Wednesday, September 3, 2008

1 out of 3 Evangelicals votes NO!

The Field Poll, a California-based independent and non-partisan survey of public opinion established in 1947, released its findings on July 18, 2008 regarding the California Proposition 8 which if passed would overturn the California Supreme Court's ruling that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. The question the Field Poll asked was:

(As you know) Proposition 8 is the “Limit on Marriage Constitutional Amendment.” It amends the California constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. If the election were being held today, would you vote YES or NO on Proposition 8, the Limit on Marriage Constitutional Amendment?

They found that among likely voters, 51% would vote no, with only 42% voting yes. If anything, this result understates the opposition, as it was conducted before the Attorney General reworded the official ballot proposition title from “Limit on Marriage Constitutional Amendment” to “Eliminates Right of Same-sex Couples to Marry”, a change that makes explicit that voting yes implicates the yes-voter in being party to forcibly divorcing currently legally married couples, a position that may put moderate voters off. I take this as a good omen, despite the grotesquely large sum of money recently contributed by carpetbaggers from Ohio in support of the anti-gay Yes on 8 campaign.

Once the fear subsided of being forcibly divorced from my husband (yes, we do use that word), I took a closer look at the fine print and found something even more remarkable: 1 in 3 California Evangelical Christians opposes Proposition 8. Assuming that the vast majority of Evangelicals personally oppose homosexuality, this is a remarkably live-and-let-live approach to a large minority among them. Perhaps they are honoring (what they consider to be) the words of Jesus himself to “remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” (Matthew 7:5). Given how much dead wood has accumulated in the Evangelical centers of power that have aligned themselves to an unseemly extent with the Republican party, this is wise advice.

Advice that I too will try to heed when questions arise about their right not to be personally coerced into actively participating in activities they hold to be wrong (as here). I think that at least in California, we have sufficient support now that we can afford to leave Christians in peace on this issue. I for one find no grace (or victory) in insisting on a coup de grâce. After all, as it is written, “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Maybe one day they will decide to stop persecuting us of their own volition.

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