Sunday, October 05, 2008

Evangelical Leader: Fundies Grumbling About Palin's Gay Remarks; Possible "Split" Developing on LGBT Rights

Evangelical leader and gay rights foe Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. came on the show on Friday (two video clips below) to respond to the now widely known fact that Mark Buse, John McCain's chief of staff, is gay, something Jackson believes compels McCain to speak more forcefully on the marriage amendments on the ballot in three states.

Jackson, pastor of the Hope Christian Church in Maryland and founder of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, is on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals, Ted Haggard's old stomping ground. Jackson isn't among the most high-profile Christian right leaders on the national level, but he does travel in their circles, was a participant in infamous Justice Sunday, and talks to them all, including Focus on the Family's James Dobson, Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and the rest. So, while the big honchos are being curiously quiet, when Jackson says evangelicals weren't happy with Palin's performance at the vice presidential debate when it came to gay issues -- and that there is a "split" among them about how Sarah Palin should have addressed the topic, as well as about John McCain's chief of staff -- it certainly is interesting:

"A lot of folks were upset that she didn't say there is a marriage amendment on the ballot in Florida, California and Arizona...She missed an opportunity to say I'm for marriage...She could have defined that thing clearly and she would have a lot more people enthusiastic about her campaign. There have been people [grumbling]...I do think she seemed a little wishy-washy and unclear on the marriage issue. She left making it sound like she and Mccain and Biden and Obama were exactly the same and they're not."

What's even more interesting is that Jackson, possibly reflecting other leaders and possibly showing the beginning of a split on gay rights among evangelicals, now says he's in favor of a national civil unions or domestic partnership scheme -- because he's being "realistic" -- even as he still is opposed to gay marriage:
"My concern about John McCain stepping up and being articulate about the marriage amendments is more about protecting the definition of marriage as one man and one woman as cultural guardrails...The reason I say I will work with civil unions, etc. -- that may not have been my original position, but I think it's a reality. We have had laws in New Jersey, all over the country. The reality is gay civil unions are going to be the law of the land all over the country...You may call it movement [on my part.] I call myself a realist...I think this would be a split issue [on the Christian right], a lot of people would disagree with me. But I think we're embroiled in a battle that's unfolding."

That is certainly fascinating. Perhaps some evangelical leaders are realizing they're losing ground big time and are trying to cut their losses. Below is the full interview, in two separate video clips.