THE BLOG
10/16/2014 05:30 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Courts, Churches Coming Around on LGBT Rights

The Supreme Court did the right thing by leaving intact lower court decisions legalizing same-sex marriage in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

As Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Sept. 4 in the cases involving Indiana and Wisconsin, the argument against same-sex marriage was "so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously." He added: "The discrimination against same-sex couples is irrational, and therefore unconstitutional."

By letting this decision, and others like it, stand, the Supreme Court seems to be recognizing the amazingly swift turnaround in public attitudes on the issue of same-sex marriage and on gay and lesbian rights, in general.

You can see this shift on the bench. And you can also see it in the pews.

Duke University recently released data from its 2012 National Congregations Study, which surveyed more than 1,300 congregations. These congregations represented 70-plus Christian denominations, plus Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and other religions groups.

Asked whether an openly gay or lesbian couple in a committed relationship would be permitted to be full-fledged members of the congregation," 48 percent of religious leaders said yes, as compared to 37.4 percent with the last study in 2006.

When asked whether openly gay or lesbian couples in a committed relationship should be "permitted to hold all of the volunteer leadership positions open to other members," 26 percent of the congregations said yes, up from 17 percent in 2006.

Black Protestant churches have shown great movement in accepting gay and lesbian members, increasing from 44 percent in 2006 to 62 percent in 2012. Their acceptance of gay and lesbian volunteer leaders jumped from 7 percent to 22 percent.

The Catholic Church bucked the trend, however. The number of churches saying folks could be full-fledged members decreased from 74 percent to 53 percent, and volunteer leadership acceptance of gays and lesbians also decreased from 39 percent to 26 percent.

But with Pope Francis taking a more generous approach, those numbers may have improved over the last two years.

Let me make a prediction: By the time the next survey is taken in 2018, same-sex marriage will be legal in all 50 states, and the vast majority of congregations across the country will have accepted gays and lesbians as members and as volunteer leaders.

Gays and lesbians and their allies have made overwhelmingly convincing arguments in the courthouse and in the public arena.

Case closed. Victory is here.

Love, peace, compassion and blessings.