Cliff Dunn – Editor
For about five seconds today, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) became my intellectually favorite person. Florida’s junior United States Senator—of which the Republican vice presidential nomination is generally viewed to be his to lose—gave an interview with Christianity Today in which, among other things, he responded to the question, “Are Christians who oppose gay marriage fighting a losing battle?”
Rubio—the darling of the Tea Party movement and, therefore, to some Progressives and left-of- Centrists at least, a barely-disguised joke—offered the usual conservative boilerplate response (“In terms of the Bible’s interpretation of marriage, what our faith teaches is pretty straightforward”), before throwing some red meat to the Sensible Center—which, frankly, caught me off guard.
“The debate is about what society should tolerate, and what society should allow our laws to be.
I believe marriage is a unique and specific institution that is the result of thousands of years of wisdom, which concluded that the ideal— not the only way but certainly the ideal—situation to raise children to become productive and healthy humans is in a home with a father and mother married to each other.
Does that mean people who are not in that circumstance cannot be successful? Of course not. It’s not a discriminatory thing. I’m not angry at anyone because of it, but I also have to be honest about what I believe marriage should be in our laws.”
I have to tell you, more thoughtful discourse of that sort, and Rubio may be positioned to reinvent the modern Republican Party into something the late Jack Kemp dreamed of—but never really believed could happen, at least in his lifetime: A truly Big Tent GOP, where religious Christians, Jews, and Muslims could espouse their religious faiths, while respectfully agreeing to disagree with one another, and allowing other “conservatives” (of a more fiscal or libertarian bent) to preach the gospels of Capitalism and Small Government. The two sides’ arguments would not be mutuallyexclusive of one another, because— as Rubio acknowledged—men and women of goodwill understand that there exists an “ideal” way (whatever that may be to the individual), but that this is “not the only way” for other men and women of goodwill to comport themselves, and they may do so providing they don’t infringe upon others’ way of life. Pass the tolerance, please, and don’t hold the mayo.
This would be a GOP where gays and lesbians (and not a few Bis, Transgenders, Questioningers, and Intersex-ers) would be comfortable as members (“Partyers”?), because the “debate,” to use Rubio’s word, would focus on differences of policy, rather than hyperbole. Rubio—come to think of it, he is kind of cute, isn’t he?— may be uniquely positioned to herald in this Age of Tolerance, returning the Party of Lincoln to its liberty-loving, “abolitionist” Christian roots.
Social and religious conservatives are free to think that people who do not subscribe to their worldview are going to a Hot Place (and by a narrow interpretation of scripture, it’s going to be a crowded Lake of Fire, indeed), but they are not free to use that worldview to deny their fellow citizens rights which are immutable and inalienable, and should be universal. (This is another place where Rubio exhibited a sobriety of thought not usual for his purported political ilk: He refused to attack Obama’s faith.).
As we locally commemorate Stonewall this weekend, let us remember that the original men and women who fought back against an intolerant and unbalanced system did so with feelings of real PRIDE about being who they were—not gay men and women, but men and women who are deserving of respect, regardless of what they look like, how they dress, or whom they love, whether by choice or by chance.
The prophet of Islam, Muhammad, said, “The most holy jihad is the one that is fought within oneself.”
So, too, is the greatest pride—in being gay, in being human—to be found within.