The LGBT community has celebrated many important victories over the past decade: the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the election of openly gay members of Congress and the passage of marriage equality in nine states and Washington DC to name just a few high-profile recent successes.
But it’s the backlash against anti-gay slurs and pronouncements that shows the true progress of how far we’ve come as a society. It’s not just that fewer people are spitting ignorance about gays and lesbians, it’s that when they do, they face consequences (see: Bryant, Kobe and Noah, Joakim).
The latest such example is Rev. Louie Giglio, who had been scheduled to give the benediction at President Obama’s second inauguration. After ThinkProgress uncovered some of Giglio’s previous unkind statements about the LGBT community, Giglio pulled himself out of the ceremony, as first reported by ABC News. Here’s a sample of Giglio’s comments:
We must lovingly but firmly respond to the aggressive agenda of not all, but of many in the homosexual community. … Underneath this issue is a very powerful and aggressive moment. That movement is not a benevolent movement, it is a movement to seize by any means necessary the feeling and the mood of the day, to the point where the homosexual lifestyle becomes accepted as a norm in our society and is given full standing as any other lifestyle, as it relates to family.
TP notes that Giglio “had given a lengthy sermon in which he advocated for dangerous ‘ex-gay’ therapy for gay and lesbian people [and] referenced a biblical passage often interpreted to require gay people be executed.”
Giglio’s spokeswoman responded to TP, in part, thusly:
Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration. Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.
In a great sign of progress, Addie Whisenant of the Presidential Inaugural Committee reacted to Giglio’s decision with this statement:
We were not aware of Pastor Giglio’s past comments at the time of his selection and they don’t reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this Inaugural. Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part for his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world. As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.
That’s as strong a statement for inclusion as you’ll see from an administration. And, given all the LGBT successes, this is a true sign that the world has changed, and is continuing to change, for the better.