Maggie Gallagher’s White Flag (And Bitter Predictions)

A few days ago, Huffington Post blogger Lila Shapiro posted her recent interview with Maggie Gallagher, co-founder and former president of the National Organization for Marriage and, more recently the Institute for Marriage And Public Policy.  While HuffPost’s “Gay Voices” articles tend to skew towards shrill tirades against comparatively trivial grievances, Shapiro stepped back and let Gallagher speak her mind. The results were interesting.


The focal point of the article was that Gallagher more or less acknowledged the inevitability of marriage equality, and that she would henceforth direct her energy to other issues.  Gallagher said that she had no regrets about fighting for an issue she cared deeply about, but that there are other battles she looks forward to fighting. “I now have a lot more freedom now to figure out what I want to do with the next 20 years of my life,” she told Shapiro.  Gallagher’s concession was naturally big news, but it’s her additional comments regarding the future pro-marriage equality America that interest me.


When asked her opinion on increasing support of marriage equality from religious groups in the U.S., Gallagher had her explanation ready.  She reasoned that as the dominant public morality in this country changes to support marriage equality, religious groups will want to conform in order to avoid being seen as backwards.  Gallagher predicted a bleak future for these groups:


“If responses to previous cultural/sexual/moral clashes (like abortion or the sexual revolution) are any indication, religions that embrace the dominant morality and reject core Biblical teachings will fade, fast, like the Episcopalians in this country.”


To me, this illustrates a profound misunderstanding of religious support of marriage equality and LGBT rights generally.  Gallagher seems to believe that religious Americans were coerced or assimilated into a viewpoint out of fear.  That contention sidesteps the reality that many individuals in “mainline” Protestant denominations have advocated for LGBT rights – including marriage – as soon as the issue began to gain public notice in the early 2000s.


Perhaps more importantly, Gallagher missed the mark on impact of religious groups embracing marriage equality. While both Catholic and mainline Protestant church attendance may continue to decline, it will not be because of a compassionate stance on marriage.


Congregations are growing older and they need newer, younger members to survive.  It is no secret that younger Americans are more in favor of marriage equality than their parents or grandparents, but this trend continues even among comparatively conservative Evangelical Christians.  A 2011 Pew Research poll f0und that 44% of respondents aged 18-29 supported marriage equality, compared to only 12% of respondents over the age of 65.


I have seen the fallacy of Gallagher’s prediction with my own eyes and in my own community.  As a practicing Episcopalian, I have regularly attended services at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Syracuse since my arrival in 2011.  In 2013, a rainbow flag was introduced beside the American and Episcopal flags, indicating the church’s inclusiveness to all who pass by.  On at least two or three Sundays after the new flag was hung, several new and younger people and couples wandered in during the service and took a seat.  Afterwards, they expressed relief to the pastor that they found a church that accepts them.


Such occasions give me hope that Maggie Gallagher’s bleak predictions for the future of religious America are unfounded.

(Sources for this article can be found in the hyperlinked text within)

Sunday Funday: The Daily Show on AZ’s Anti-Gay Bill

Sunday Funday: The Daily Show on AZ’s Anti-Gay Bill

Earlier this week SLACE discussed a bill, SB 1062, passed by the Arizona Legislation that, by the end of the week, was widely viewed as being anti-gay.  As of last Monday, when the SLACE post was published, the bill was awaiting enactment through the signature of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.  In the interim, a strange turn of events came to fruition.  The bill was lambasted as being discriminatory, and even some of the legislatures who voted for it repudiated their votes and urged the governor to veto the bill. Gov. Brewer did eventually veto the bill.  However, before tearing the bill out of the legislative history and tossing it to the trash bin of bad ideas, here is a clip from The Daily Show lampooning the failed bill and pointing out the hypocrisy that sounded it.


This post was originally published on the SLACE Archive.  For more public policy related video/audio, be sure to check out the SLACE Archive for daily podcast recommendations.

Sunday Funday: From Russia with Love

Sunday Funday: From Russia with Love

This week, This Daily Show with Jon Stewart sent correspondent Jason Jones to Russia, albeit Moscow, for the Olympic games.  In the first segment, entitled “Jason Jones Live From Sochi-ish – Commie Dearest,” Jones explores Cold War nostalgia.  Here is a description:


The second segment, titled “Jason Jones Live From Sochi-ish – Behind the Iron Closet, discusses Russian views on gay rights. Here is a description:


This post was originally published on the SLACE Archive.  For more public policy related video/audio, be sure to check out the SLACE Archive for daily podcast recommendations.

Grammy’s, Gay Marriage, “Same Love”

Grammy’s, Gay Marriage, “Same Love”

During the Grammy Awards last Saturday, hip-hop artist and marriage equality advocate Macklemore performed the hit song “Same Love” with Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert.  During the performance, Queen Latifah  legally presided over the marriages of thirty-three couples, gay and straight alike. The song then resumed with Madonna transitioning to her song “Open Your Heart.”

As someone who cares deeply and has written academically about marriage equality, I found the performance to be quite moving.  It reminded how art can capture dimensions of ongoing public policy debates in ways politicians, lawyers and even advocates often cannot. What struck me is just how apt “Same Love” is in encapsulating the essence of the marriage equality movement.  Despite all of the legal arguments and political propaganda surrounding gay marriage, the debate, at bottom, boils down to a simple proposition:

  1. The reason the state, not only permits but, promotes marriage is to encourage love and loving relationships.
  2. Gay couples and straight couples share the “same love” and can enter into the same types of loving relationship.
  3. Therefore, the state should permit and promote same-sex marriage just as it does opposite sex ones.

Although the performance was a strong message of marriage equality, I question whether it was the best medium by which to purvey it.  Initially, I was inspired by the performance, but my second thought was “And, the entire state of Kansas just changed the channel.” Making matters worse, the entire first verse of the song calls out “right wing conservatives” being naïve, fear mongering and “paraphrasing” the Bible.  However, the marriage equality movement is currently turning its attention to more conservative populations.  In the coming months and years, the movement will be attempting to overturn state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage in more conservative party of the country (than say Los Angeles, where the Grammy’s were held).

If the marriage equality movement is to continue to be successful, it must adapt its message in such a way as to appeal to a potentially skeptical audience.  Once way in which the music community could assist in this re-branding there was a country version of “Same Love.” In past years, songs such as Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” have been successfully remixed by adding a hip hop element for broader consumption.  In this case, the reverse would be appropriate.  “Same Love” could be adapted by a country artist (excluding the first verse) for a more targeted audience.

In sum, while this year’s performance of “Same Love” at the Grammy Awards made an important statement (one that could not have been made just a few years ago); what will matter next year, and the years to come, is whether a pro-gay rights song can gain traction in the Country Music Awards.  For it will be those who listen to country music and live in more conservative areas that will decide the future marriage equality movement.

This post was originally published on the SLACE Archive.  For more public policy related video/audio, be sure to check out the SLACE Archive for daily podcast recommendations.