Two developments in the campaign for marriage equality suggest that things keep moving in the right direction. At an appearance at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, prominent evangelical pastor Rob Bell endorsed marriage equality. Meanwhile, in suburban Washington, D. C., the leaders of the National Organization for Marriage faced an almost empty room at CPAC, a gathering known for its hardline conservatism.
Greg Carey writes about Bell’s conversion in Huffington Post:
This Sunday Rob Bell spoke at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral and openly endorsed marriage equality. Grace Cathedral is the Episcopal Cathedral of the Diocese of California, and I thank Julie Harris, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications, for alerting me to his message (audio here). Bell was speaking to the Cathedral’s Grace Forum in an appearance presented in partnership with his publisher, HarperCollins.
In response to a question regarding same-sex marriage, Bell said, “I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs — I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.”
Bell went on to say that while it used to be fair to equate evangelicals with social conservatism, that assumption no longer holds true. More pointedly, he said, “I think we are witnessing the death of a particular subculture that doesn’t work. I think there is a very narrow, politically intertwined, culturally ghettoized, Evangelical subculture that was told “we’re gonna change the thing” and they haven’t. And they actually have turned away lots of people. And i think that when you’re in a part of a subculture that is dying, you make a lot more noise because it’s very painful. You sort of die or you adapt. And if you adapt, it means you have to come face to face with some of the ways we’ve talked about God, which don’t actually shape people into more loving, compassionate people. And we have supported policies and ways of viewing the world that are actually destructive. And we’ve done it in the name of God and we need to repent.”
Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed has the story from CPAC:
Cleta Mitchell, a D.C. lawyer who successfully led the charge to keep the LGBT conservative group GOProud out of the Conservative Political Action Conference for the past two years, is finding out what it means to lose a hard-fought battle.
Mitchell and the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown looked down from a stage at the annual, signature conservative conference whose social values they’d fought to defend to find they’d lost their troops.
“We are treated as if we are bigots,” Brown complained to a largely empty room, assembled for a panel dedicated to discussing the bullying they and other conservatives say they face from the Obama administration.
An hour later, speaking to a packed room at another CPAC panel about increasing tolerance in the party, GOProud executive director Jimmy LaSalvia basically agreed.