Last week, the Washington Post reported that, for the first time ever:
Organizers of this weekend’s Capital Pride named 14 faith-based groups participating in Sunday’s festival for the first time. They include Baptist, Lutheran and Quaker churches as well as the country’s largest Buddhist denomination, a Conservative synagogue and a Mormon advocacy group.And, not just members of those religious denominations, but clergy and bishops and the head of the Jewish Reform movement, marching amidst a sea of rainbow banners and balloons and to the incessant beat of Very Loud music with a religious double entendre like "I'm A Believer" and "I Am What I Am" and "We Are Family".
WAPO also reported:
Perhaps the most prominent first in 2013 will be the participation in Saturday’s parade of Washington National Cathedral, the seat of the Episcopal Church and the site of many presidential funerals and major national interfaith gatherings. The Episcopal Church, a small but prominent Protestant denomination, has been generally in favor of gay equality for years but the Cathedral leadership has been raising the bar in the last few months.
That has to be the understatement of the year!
It's not exactly "generally in favor" when you have institutional approval of LGBT people for ordination and marriage equality.
Oh, we are not in 100% agreement on much of anything - as it should be - but "generally in favor"? C'mon!
And, The Episcopal Church has been "raising the bar"? Oh, honey, we own the bar!
I know the source is WAPO, but sheesh!
Which gets back to my original question - especially if The Episcopal Church is, in fact, "small but prominent" and yet is really striving to live into the Gospel mission of "welcoming the stranger".
What happens to a movement when your detractors don't exactly wave the white flag and admit defeat but do concede - with palpable chagrin - that you have made advances in your cause?
Looking at other movements may be instructive.
Take, for example, the Civil Rights Movement.
I find it hard to believe that sometime, before the beginning of summer, the Supreme Court will be rendering its decision on Section Five of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As Nate Silver points out, "statistical analysis can inform the answers if applied thoughtfully. But statistics can obscure the truth when they become divorced from the historical, legal and logical context of a case."
Or, let's look at the Reproductive Justice Movement.
Just this morning the House Judiciary Committee signed off on a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Yes, of course, it's unconstitutional. Yes, of course it won't pass the Senate and, even if by some weird set of circumstances it did, the President would veto it.
When did any of that matter to House Republicans - they who don't do anything but introduce yet another bill to defeat The Affordable Care Act?
I will remind you, gentle reader, that Roe v. Wade, which defined the viability of a fetus at 24 weeks - was passed in 1973.
The Birth Control Pill - along with other contraceptive agents and devices - have been with us for over 50 years. And yet... AND YET.... we are still having conversations about making contraception available to women as part of good preventative health care based on the objections of some religious leaders in some denominations.
Just as prejudice has to be "carefully taught", the effects of generations of bigotry and institutional oppression have to be carefully unraveled.
That takes time.
Generations of time.
So, yes, let's celebrate when men and women in purple shirts march along side us in PRIDE parades.
Yes, let's praise God when judicatory leaders issue statements celebrating PRIDE month and recommitting their efforts to fight against Hate Crimes.
And, absolutely, let's revel in the advances we've made and the victories that have been hard-fought and well-won.
But, don't let articles like this fool you. Or, lull you into complacency.
I know it's been almost 40 years but, in many ways, we've only just begun.
Yes, we've won some major battles, but the war is still on. Look, I don't like the war imagery, either, but for one who has been in this battle for 37 years, I can tell you from experience that, like it or not, that's the reality. Well, my reality, anyway. And, the reality of a lot of other people.
And, why is it that one young gay man - 32 year old Mark Carson - was murdered just last month in Manhattan?
Here's the truth of it, then: Despite all the progress we've made, homophobia is still alive and well and living in the hearts of many people in this country and around the world.
So, when you march in Gay Pride Parades, yes, do rejoice and be glad when you see your a contingent from your church holding your church banner, or your bishop in purple splendor waving from the back of a convertible, or your judicatory leader marching along with you.
Know that, before they were there - before YOU were there - God was marching with us.
God is behind all of our progress. God has carried us and brought us to this moment in our history. And, God will not drop us on our heads - unless we have fallen asleep and need to open our eyes.
See also: vigilance and persistence.
So, march on, dear Queer sisters and brothers - LGBT and straight allies - one and all.
Know that our God is marching, too.
Glory, glory, Hallelujah!