To many, the words "Gay Christian" are, at best, in tension with each other. For others, particularly those on the political right, those two words are mutually exclusive: being gay or supporting LGBT rights is utterly inconsistent with being Christian. But, as the recent viral video of outgoing Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd demonstrates, it is quite possible for Christians to embrace same-sex marriage and welcome gays and lesbians into their congregations. Pope Francis himself said this month that gays and lesbians "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity." Many gays and lesbians themselves are Christians. Yet somehow, in American political discourse, a group of religious politicians have managed to co-opt the term "Christian" and to use "Christian values" as a euphemism for policies that deny gays and lesbians their civil rights.
To suggest that one cannot be a member of the gay and lesbian community, or support their inclusion and legal rights, and be Christian is simply false. A number of Christian churches have expressed their support for inclusion and even the right for same-sex couples to be married, not only in the eyes of the state but also within their own religious congregations. The Episcopal church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and United Church in Christ all permit the blessing of same-sex unions. A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that over half of Roman Catholics and white mainline Protestants support marriage equality. These persons of faith do not think of their support for gay rights as excluding them from the status of "Christian."
Part of the perception problem is the use of "Christian" as some monolithic, uniform viewpoint. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, there are nearly 247 million practicing Christians in America; diversity of opinion is inevitable. Imagining that all Christians feel the same way about gays and lesbians also risks alienating gays and lesbians who are themselves persons of faith. For many, the process of accepting their sexual orientation is a complex, confusing process through which someone must risk family and friends to be true to themselves.
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