Last week, San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders spoke out on behalf of gay marriage, altering his long held stance for civil unions for gay couples as opposed to gay marriage. In Mayor Sanders' approximately five minute speech, which you can listen to here, he posits that he could not tell an entire group of people that they did not deserve the same rights as those around them. He also stated that he made his decision after long reflection and felt that it was the right thing to do. Not only is Mayor Sanders' speech absolutely touching, but it also gets to the core message of the gospel- the message of love and justice for all people.
In my experience, I have noticed that politicians often get crucified for their changing perspectives on policy issues. Often, politicians who change their vote or view point in regards to the war, social issues, or any other number of policy initiatives are called "flip-floppers". While certainly, there may very well be cases of "flip-flopping", I suggest that it is far better for politicians like Mayor Sanders to change their mind because they have significantly reflected and have changed their mind in the interest of social justice, then for them to stay stagnant, with little reflection and even less mercy.
"Flip-flopping" seems to me to be contingent upon context. If a politician "flip-flops" in the name of justice- changing their positions on social issues so that the human spirit is uplifted and dignity is restored- then this is a politician that I can respect. In the Old Testament, we may recall times when even God "flip-flopped"- swearing death and destruction but then rescinding when repentance is made, or when justice could be better served. Why then, should humans be any different? Should we not constantly be seeking justice in our world? And should we not expect that sometimes, we will get it wrong and the truly humble thing to do would be to recognize our error and correct it.
I commend Mayor Sanders for his courageous stance, particularly as a member of a political party that traditionally opposes gay marriage. If this is what it means to be a "flip-flopper"- then I'll take it.