Barack Obama has been elected President of the United States!
Proposition 8 has passed!
I’ve heard or read both of these sentiments repeatedly over the last 48 hours – sometimes from the same people – and it has begun to make me question how we attribute God’s working in the world. What litmus test do we use to determine if an event is of God or not?
I celebrate the election of Barack Obama. He is smart, inspiring and a born leader. His campaign promoted hope, unity and the possibility that we can heal the wounds of our past. With the election of Barack Obama, the American people recognized the past, turned to face the future and stepped forward.
I mourn the passing of Prop 8. It was a campaign that promoted fear of difference and devaluated a class of people by degrading their love. It forced lesbian and gay people into second class citizenship. With the passing Prop 8, Californians looked to the future that held Gay and Lesbian people with equal worth and with equal rights, turned to face the past, and stepped back.
Martin Luther King, Jr said: “The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice.” This is the way I understanding where God dwells within history. God is found in the movement towards justice and love for all people. God is found in hope not fear; unity not division; justice not discrimination. By facing forward, those with eyes to see recognize where God is working today. I can see God even in the Prop 8 vote. While it is a setback for gay and lesbian people, it is also reflects progress as the measure passed with narrow margins and was almost defeated, something that couldn’t have happened even five years ago.
Neither the election of Barack Obama, nor the passing of Prop 8 represent God’s final will on earth. Obama’s election does not wipe out the vicious racism of centuries, and Prop 8 shows that there is still work to be done confronting the discrimination of Gay and Lesbian people. But they both represent some progress along the way.
“The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come.”
Angels in America, by Tony Kushner.