I thought this was satirical at first, but it's not.
Through years of queer demonstrations, meetings, readings and dinner table conversations, about gay bashing, police violence, job discrimination, housing discrimination, health care discrimination, immigration discrimination, family ostracism, teen suicide, AIDS profiteering, sodomy laws, and much more, I never once heard anyone identify the fact that they couldn't get married as being a major concern. And then, out of the blue, gay marriage suddenly became the litmus test by which we measure our allies. We have now come to the point that many unthinkingly equate opposition to gay marriage with homophobia.
Rick Warren is now the flash point, the one all our political allies, even Barack Obama, are supposed to denounce because he doesn't pass gay marriage the litmus test.
I disagree with Rick Warren on many things. To start with, he believes that 2000 years ago God sent his only Son to die on a cross so that mankind would not perish but have everlasting life. To me, that's weird. I don't know how to even begin to address an idea that far out. And he believes that everyone who does not accept Jesus as their savior will go to hell. He doesn't single out gays and lesbians in particular. To me, the weirdest thing there is not that he thinks queers will go to hell, but that he believes in hell at all. But mainline Protestants believe in hell too. So do Catholics, who also add purgatory and limbo.
Steve Waldman, founder of Belief.net (where you find the most thoughtful exchanges on present day religion), did an extended interview with Warren which has been hyped all over the blogosphere as an example of why we should all be screaming for Obama to disinvite Warren from the inaugural. The quote that got all the attention was when Warren said gay marriage would be on a par with marriage for incest, pedophilia and polygamy. And yes, I think that's off-base. Not up there are the scale of the whole God-sent-his-only-Son-to-die-on-a-cross bit, but weird nonetheless.
Read the whole thing. It's a tricky argument. On the one hand, Ostertag amounts a vicious atheist attack on marriage traditionalists and those of religious faith. But on the other hand he suggests he'd be perfectly willing to work with "progressive" evangelicals who want to tackle "more important" problems, like global warming, which just "can't wait."
Note though that Ostertag conflates the whole of pro-marriage traditionalism into a faith-based pigeonhole. And that's the trick: There are powerful secular arguments against same-sex marriage, so when leftists take issue with the spiritual proponents of traditionalism, they work to attack the larger edifice of Western culture and tradition that's been the basis for the American political culture, the rise of capitalism (the Protestant work ethic), and the natural law rationalism that grew out of the Enlightement and sustains modern democratic institutions.
The religious argument against gay marriage is a good one. But those who take that approach will be bogged down in defending against anti-Christianist assaults, not to mention the debate over "religious rites" versus "civil rights." And while religion ultimately provides what is in essence the supreme power of universal reason, debating gay marriage on religious grounds puts people of faith in a position of endlessy rebutting spurious allegations of congregational bigotry.
It's too bad that things have come to this, but those who respect traditional values are in a sense fighting a secular creed, an atheistic faith that would banish universal good from the public square altogether. It's this underlying secular humanist agenda that will destroy all that's best about our culture, not just heterosexual marriage traditionalism alone, but the entire moral firmament beneath it.