The most coveted legal win for generations of conservatives has thus far produced a string of unimaginable progressive victories. While Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization presents clear risks for women’s freedom and autonomy, it’s led to voters in states like Kansas, Kentucky and Montana affirming pro-choice protections and is among the factors credited with Democrats’ muscular performance in the midterm elections.
With pro-choice decisions like Roe v. Wade and Griswold v. Connecticut serving as the pillars of LGBTQ legal canon, Dobbs was rightfully perceived as a threat to same-sex marriage and accelerated legislative codification of gay nuptials by at least 15–20 years (the right to an abortion was not reinforced by federal law in the half century since Roe). Although the recently passed “Respect for Marriage Act” does not enshrine legal same-sex marriage as explicitly as the “Defense of Marriage Act” prohibited it in 1996, the Orwellian swap in the final vote count and overall discussion of those two bills was a poignant, puzzling flex of how far LGBTQ people have come in less than three decades.
As fantastic as the view can seem upon reaching the mountaintop, queer Americans remain susceptible to avalanches and other disturbances that could make our progress crumble. Anti-transgender legislation and misinformation have excited conservative fearmongering, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is likely to make Drag Queen Story Hour the Willie Horton of the 2024 presidential election.
U.S. Methodists recently joined Episcopalians as denominations that have fractured while debating whether God loves or loathes LGBTQ people, with one-third of congregations voting to break from the United Methodist Church due to its affirming theology. Opponents of queer liberation remain committed to subjugating us on Earth and in heaven, and it’s a little worrisome when you remember how many of our allies — whether pastor or politician, corporate marketer or average voter — quite recently agreed we were divinely undeserving of certain rights and opportunities.
While impressive, the pace of LGBTQ progress has given our movement the odor of a fad. Fifteen years ago, 80 percent of Americans and 98 percent of the political establishment thought marriage was too holy to be tainted by gay men and lesbians; and with little time for individual or collective introspection about how we got from “God Hates Fags” to “No Shade,” a consensus of the population now pretends they’ve loved and advocated for us all along.
Religion has always been a primary barrier to LGBTQ acceptance, and rapid queer advancement is significantly due to the largest denomination in the U.S. being a strain of pop Christianity where neither church attendance nor biblical literacy are required; where folks thank God for everything good and ask him to protect them from everything bad; and where God hates evil because God is love.
The prevalence of superficial faith lessened popular resistance to our cultural and legal advancements, but it’s hardly reassuring for this pliable mass to now pledge its support. I can’t forget how easily Americans are manipulated by religion or deny that when most folks get around to genuinely seeking to reconcile their faith with their feelings about LGBTQ issues, my gay ass doesn’t stand a chance against God.