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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Texas Faith - Same-sex marriages and changing attitudes

Clearly societal attitudes change in some key areas. And religious organizations, like many other institutions, are forced to respond. Eleven Texas Faith panelists at Dallas Morning News write their take on the issue.

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

No one has ever remained unaffected by the change. So are religious organizations and individuals. The conservatives of today would have been considered liberals by conservatives of the fifties. In turn, they would have been liberals to the conservatives from around the First World War.

Who has contributed most towards favoring same-sex marriage? Of course, it is the conservatives! When the only voices that oppose change accept the new reality, it seems the whole world has moved.

The Times survey jump from 27% to 47% in 15 years was obviously not by liberals alone. One after the other, conservative bastions of religions have seen the need for change. The latest one is the Presbyterian Church, which has opened its doors this year. Now, evangelicals are choosing their words carefully to keep that door open.

President Obama has indeed become a catalyst for this change. Right after he announced his personal take on the issue, a host of organizations are starting to come around to his view. The momentum will build.

The pattern was similar with racial integration and civil rights. It takes one to take the bold stand and others will follow. It was a big risk for Obama politically, but it was the right thing to stand up for individual liberties, rights and freedom of expression. Those, ironically, are true conservative values.

Most religious organizations are moderate by nature, but take on a conservative posture to appease those who bankroll them. A few will always remain ultra-conservative and opt to have their way rather than change.

There is room for everyone to seek their own umbrella, but change is inescapable. If not, we would have remained in the caves, ridden camels, tilled the land, worn loin cloth and hunted animals.

America is about freedom of the spirit. There is nothing like it in the world. The mere presence on this land impregnates one with frontier can-do attitudes.

The regressive approach of Santorum and Bachman did not pan out. The society at large did not give them a lift. Indeed, we have looked past Catholic Kennedy and African- American Obama/ And when it comes to the Republican nomination, Mormon Romney will get the mantle. It is not the color of the skin, or religion. It is what you can do for America that matters to Americans.

Except the anomaly in 2010 elections, we have punished the narrow attitudes in the past. With the fall of the conservative candidates, we are witnessing embarrassing back- peddling by self-proclaimed conservatives. It was not conservatism. Rather, politics at its worse failed them.

I am proud of my America, where merit and progressiveness is supported over jingoistic claims. We are setting new standards in the world, where others can look up to us and model us in creating societies where every human is valued rather than their sexual orientation or race. Each one of the 312 million of us is a beneficiary of this spirit.

Muslims are evolving in their take on same-sex marriage, just as Baha'is, Hindus, Sikhs and others while Native Americans, Jews and Christians have a take on the issue. Muslim institutions will remain silent, but individuals will be driving change to knock off the resistance.

I have been deliberating the statement of Dr. Aslam Abdullah, editor of the mainstream Muslim Observer, He said: "However, Islam does recognize the rights of people to reject this world view and acknowledges the freedom of people to adopt an alternative perspective, with the admonition that people are responsible for the consequences of their actions in the eyes of God."

My own perspective is, as long as anyone -- gay, lesbian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Christian or Baha'i -- is not stealing your food, gas, clothing, money and car, he or she can live his life the way he or she chooses. Society's responsibility is limited to punishing the individual for the acts that affect public safety and those acts that an overwhelming majority agrees to abide by.

Ani Zonneveld, editor of the progressive Muslim Values, caps my take very well, saying: "Regardless of whether any individual agrees or disagrees with the religious acceptance of homosexuality, America is about justice for all. If you consider yourself a proud American, then same-sex marriage is a no brainer.

To see all the opinions, please visit Dallas Morning News, Texas Faith column at:
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MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.com is updated daily.

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