Friday, June 22, 2007

Gay Life: Change and Challenge

By Jonathan Mandell

To understand how much gay life in the United States has changed -- and how challenging it remains -- consider the story of the Dillards, Sharon and Tanya, who describe themselves as "a typical family with soccer, brand new puppies, church, choir and not enough time in the day."

When Sharon was born in 1962, homosexuality was treated in the country as a sin, a crime and a mental illness.

It was only in 1974 -- the year after Tanya was born -- that the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its manual of mental disorders.

In 2003, the year Sharon and Tanya became a couple, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the laws in states that singled out same-sex relations for criminal prosecution.

Is homosexuality still viewed as a sin? A recent Gallup Poll found Americans nearly evenly split between those who saw homosexual relations as "morally acceptable" (47 percent) and those who saw them as "morally wrong" (49 percent).

Some religious denominations now welcome gay parishioners and accept openly gay members of the clergy. The Episcopal Church in America has even consecrated an openly gay bishop. But some of those same denominations, including the Episcopalians, are now threatened with schism as a result. (Read more about why the schism is possible)

Sharon, who grew up in Stillwater, Oklahoma, has a saying about the reaction of the religious in her home state: "In Oklahoma, I have more people praying for me than with me."

Read the rest here.

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