There was an insightful piece in today's New York Times about how religious leaders played an important role in getting same-sex marriage passed in New York State. The article notes that the media has focused on the religious right's opposition to gay marriage.
Yet the passage of same-sex marriage in New York last month, just two years after its defeat here, attests to the concerted, sustained efforts by liberal Christian and Jewish clergy to advocate for it in the language of faith, to counter the language of morality voiced by foes. In so doing, they provided a kind of political and theological cover to the moderate and conservative state senators who cast the vital swing votes for a 33-to-29 margin.
Religion, like all human discourse, is not all conservative, just as it isn't all liberal. It's easy to forget that the civil rights acts of the late 60s were spearheaded by religious leaders. My favorite image which illustrates this very point, starts the article:
Early in the week that ended with New York enacting same-sex marriage, the Rev. Anna Taylor Sweringen stood in a hallway just outside the State Senate chambers. She wore her clerical collar and held a sign saying, “Equality now.” Around her gathered ministers and rabbis of similar sentiment, all in Albany to lobby and pray for the right of gay couples to wed.
As Ms. Taylor Sweringen looked down the corridor, she saw the mirror image of mobilized clergy members, all irreconcilably opposed. One held a placard declaring, “God says no.” Then the assemblage broke into a gospel song. “I told Satan to get thee behind,” it went. “Victory today is mine.”
Among her allies, Ms. Taylor Sweringen responded with a spiritual from the civil rights movement, “I’m Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table.” Soon the dueling choirs were lining up along facing walls, barely inches apart, and the state police had to clear a path between them like a boxing referee.
The entire piece isn't too long---well worth the read.