Religion News Service: In-depth. Impartial. Engaged.

Blogs » Jana Riess - Flunking Sainthood

Flunking Sainthood has moved: Click here to read the latest posts

My Gay Agenda

Tuesday's election was historic not because of who was or was not elected president -- however important that contest may have been -- but because it showed that our nation has crossed a threshold in accepting LGBTQ people as equals. I am thrilled.

Consider the results:

  • Voters approved of same-sex marriage in Maryland, Washington, and Maine. Maine had rejected it just a few years ago.
  • Minnesota voters said no to a measure that would have amended its state constitution to define "marriage" as heterosexual unions between a man and a woman. Voters in 30 states had approved such measures in previous elections, making it possible for conservative activists to claim that every time such a measure had been sent directly to the American people, the American people had voted down gay marriage. That's not the case any more.
  • In neighboring Wisconsin, a lesbian, Tammy Baldwin, became the nation's first openly gay Senator. Moreover, as one commentator put it, "her sexual orientation was largely a non-issue in the race." 
  • In Iowa, voters did not unseat a judge who had been part of the seven-member state Supreme Court that had unanimously upheld same-sex marriage in 2007. According to the New York Times, two other judges who had found in favor of gay marriage had been kicked off the bench by angry Iowa conservatives in 2010. This year's election was a different story.
  • Voters re-elected for president a man who announced earlier this year that he had changed his mind about same-sex marriage, and that he now supports full marriage equality.

Clearly, President Obama is not the only American who has changed his mind. The Huffington Post quotes Bishop Gene Robinson's excitement for the change in the nation's mood:

"This is a real national moment. It shows that America is ready for the mainstreaming of gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender people."

I'm not saying that our nation has achieved anything like full equality for LGBTQ people. But I'm encouraged by the fact that the tide seems to have palbably shifted.

The signs are not just political. On Saturday night at my husband's high school reunion in red-state Kentucky, we were both glad to see that no one batted an eyelash about a gay couple appearing there as a couple. Even though his friend Brian had not been out in adolescence, nobody seemed surprised to learn he was gay. Everyone had gotten used to the notion of gay couples and appeared more concerned with the really important questions, like who had gotten fat since high school.

There's no doubt that conservatives will continue to hammer the issue of homosexuality, but it seems their fearmongering is falling on deaf ears as Americans realize that those states that have already adopted same-sex marriage haven't yet fallen into the sea. All of the worries that the presence of same sex marriage in a state would somehow "ruin" or "damage" the sanctity of heterosexual marriage have not come true.

Conservatives will also continue to speak about the "gay agenda," a terrifying specter of homosexual infiltration into the American mainstream.

And in this case, I agree with their language. There is such a thing as a gay agenda. It is an agenda that aims for all Americans to be judged by their actions and by the content of their character, not by their choice of dates to the high school reunion.

On Tuesday, that agenda became quite a bit more real.


The images of rainbow hands and a family with two moms are both used with permission of


Topics: Culture, Gender & Sexuality, Politics, Election, Legislation
Beliefs: Interfaith
Tags: 2012 the "gay election", flunking sainthood, gay agenda, gay rights in 2012 election, homosexuality, jana riess, same-sex marriage in maine, same-sex marriage in maryland, same-sex marriage in minnesota, same-sex marriage in washington


  1. Many years ago a wise, prophetic pastor challenge us to “set audacious goals and celebrate incremental victories.” The audacious goal (AKA the “gay agenda”) is equal protection that equally protects all Americans and a family values movement that values all families. November 6 was a victory to celebrate in the journey toward that goal ... and the work goes on. Thank you for the gift of this encouragement along the way ... and for your grace and humor! Brava & Amen!

    The Reverend Canon Susan Russell
    All Saints Church, Pasadena CA

  2. Amen

  3. Many years ago a wise, prophetic pastor challenged us to be aware “...that in the last days perilous times shall come.
        2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
        3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
        4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
        5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
    (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

    Let me say that Paul was talking about the sins of the last days.  He loved the sinners, just as Christ did, but also knew that accepting (or LEGALIZING) the sin was unacceptable (“from such turn away).
        It is truly unfortunate that any state has legalized gay marriage.  It is one of the most spiritually destructive things to happen in our time.  There are many people who think otherwise, and they usually couch their argument in terms of “equal rights”.  It seems that people are so anxious to jump on the bandwagon of “equal rights” and not be seen as someone who “hates” homosexuals, that they stop thinking of what they are actually supporting.  Just like Paul or the Savior, you can still love the sinner without loving what they do.  To be unwilling to take a stance against this sin is the way of the coward, and shows an utter lack of spiritual maturity and understanding.
        And as for a family values movement that values all families, a FAMILY under God is defined as a woman and a man, legally and lawfully wed.  They may or may not be able to have children.  To allow homosexuality to be included in the definition of a family, and to give them the same rights in society as a family, is to introduce the seeds of destruction into that which is holy.  The rust or infection may not be visible immediately, but sooner or later they will weaken and destroy even the strongest of families.
        May we begin to pay attention to the scriptures and the Holy Spirit, and have the spiritual fortitude to stand up for what is right, before it is too late.

  4. Dear Jared,
    Many people to their peril and others to their shame have found that the interpretation of scripture is a tricky and chancy business.  It is seldom so simple as it seems.  It is better to approach the Bible with an attitude that says “I could be wrong.”  Be careful that you, in your hubris, do not lead others astray.  The Rev. Susan Russell commenting above knows her Bible at least as well as you do and seems to have come to a different understanding.

  5. Dear Tom,
    Interpretation of scripture is a tricky business.  In ancient days the Jews would have turned to their prophet for the correct interpretation, and to receive new scripture as well.  That is the pattern established by God in the scriptures.  And while there are some who believe in a modern day prophet, most people do not.  For those who don’t believe, where does that leave them?  It feels like people are being blown about by every wind of doctrine, because there is no authority to guide them to the truth.  It has been that way since the death of the Apostles.  Different denominations have dealt with this differently.  Some have placed a man at their head, others an organization.  Some say there is no central authority, so they try and follow the Spirit.  As you pointed out, truth is to be found somewhere in the midst of these.
    I don’t believe that Christ suffered, died, and was resurrected so that every person on earth could interpret His word in our own way.  Christ brought to pass the atonement so that He could set the terms of Salvation, either to our justification or to our condemnation.  It doesn’t make sense to me that He would then leave those most important terms subject to interpretation. 
    Still, without a belief in modern prophets, we are left with a few options to guide us in seeking the true interpretation of scripture.  These include:
    1. Look at patterns already established in scripture, i.e He married a man and a woman in the Garden of Eden.
    2. Listen to our conscience.  Those feelings inside of us are there to help us to know what is right and what is wrong, if we will listen to them.
    3. Observe the long-term consequences of actions.  Sometimes the true consequences of our actions don’t manifest themselves immediately.  “By their fruits ye shall know them”.
    4. Ask our Heavenly Father what is true and what is false.  God certainly knows what He considers to be right and wrong, and knows what is true and false.  If we ask Him in faith, He will tell us, through the power of His Holy Spirit.
    Even with all of these, there is no sure interpretation for everyone all at the same time without a prophet.  Each person choosing their own interpretation doesn’t seem to be working very well for the country, or the world, so far.

  6. I like to keep it simple. My rule of thumb is “did Jesus address it?” If so, then I try to listen and interpret his word. If not, then it probably isn’t something that I should be judging. There have been many before and after Jesus that have weighed in on a variety of topics, sometimes completely contradicting the teachings of Christ. I know a Lutheran minister who I think said it very well when he said that Jesus taught us be respectful of our bodies and faithful in our love. That’s pretty simple. As with marriage, which I believe should be two people honoring and loving each other, man has corrupted it making it more about property and possession. Love, honor and cherish, and don’t judge.

  7. This article by Jana Riess and others is a good reason this site is called RELIGION News Service and not CHRISTIAN News Service.

  8. Yes, this is so encouraging. I think this will give me more courage to speak in favor of gay rights, which sadly I have been a bit hesitant to do.

  9. Dear Wendy,
    One cannot plead off by relying on the reds letters. Jesus lived in a faith tradition where there was Scripture and commandment.  He was the True Word, but he also lived by the Word, occasionally interpreting it so the we could understand its true purpose.  Sometimes we need to pay attention to what he was silent about.  Maybe there was no need to speak to the obvious truth.

  10. Hey..the BIG GUY didn’t preach to us about birth control ...and abortion…and fear and hate…and gay marriage . HIS words were more “down to earth”:
    1 Corinthians 13
    New King James Version (NKJV)The Greatest Gift13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whetherthere is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Sign In

Forgot Password?

You also can sign in with Facebook or Twitter if you've connected your account to them.

Sign In Using Facebook

Sign In Using Twitter