Former “ex-gay” leader Randy Thomas, who spent years as a key player at the now defunct Exodus International, has posted a letter on his blog, explaining that, while his own personal beliefs on marriage haven’t changed, he now regrets his earlier support for Prop 8 and other marriage bans:
I have also come to believe that trying to make our secular government impose my spiritual beliefs in this matter is not helpful or appropriate. Let me explain …
The night that Prop 8 in California and Amendment 2 in Florida (both banning gay marriage) passed I was jubilant. I truly believed what we had done was right and good. In the following days, and for a while afterwards, I repeated the talking points I had willingly adopted. I truly believed what I was saying. What I didn’t make widely known was how heart-broken I was when I saw the gay community in California take to the streets. Their protests that night and in the days afterwards tugged at me. When I saw their grief-stricken faces my heart twisted in my chest. It was the first time in a long time I remember thinking, “did we do something wrong?” I quickly shoved that thought out of my mind as I joined my fellow religious activists celebrating the marriage “wins.”
Yet, the gay community with their protesting and sorrow filled faces would come back to haunt me over the years. Eventually the doubt over what we had done would get louder in my mind and change from a question to a conviction; a conviction that indeed we had done something terribly wrong.
Randy explains his realization that, during the years of DOMA, that law didn’t actually do anything to “defend” anyone’s traditional marriage, pointing out that two of the men who presided over its passage were having affairs at the time. Moreover:
The part that breaks my heart, is that the night that Prop 8 (and other marriage bans) passed, we made it very clear to the gay community that policy was more important than they are. We made it clear that we thought that investing in rules was more important than sacrificially serving in honest relationship. We communicated that we valued the letter of the law more than the authentic expression of grace in the context of humbly living our lives and loving our neighbor. The message we sent was deeply damaging to our relationships with our gay neighbors and family members.
For my part in this, I deeply apologize.
Today, I can honestly say that I am glad that the courts are striking down all the marriage bans across the country.
One thing that many, if not most, marriage equality activists have been pointing out over and over again is that our equality has absolutely nothing to do with anyone’s religious conception of marriage. If you refer to the sentence I bolded above, it’s clear that Randy now understands that people have different religious beliefs about marriage (or none at all), and that those having nothing to do with the public policy of civil marriage.
We appreciate the apology, as the work of Exodus and other “ex-gay” organizations has indeed done much damage, and lives have been ruined because of it. As we move ever closer to being a nation with full equality, we look forward to more former “ex-gay” activists and religious right figures engaging in the kind of soul searching Randy clearly has.
[h/t Pink News]