Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Flip-Floppers Get My Vote

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.


Alan said...

What amazed me most about the clip is how emotional he was. To me it seems like a no brainer to sign the resolution. I don't have a problem with what the legislature is trying to do, but I was amazed at how worked up he was. I believe that is proof at how much he thought about it. I take that as proof that he genuinely reflected on his beliefs and that he truly meant everything he said. I know you said the other day something about how he should sign the bill even if he didn't have a gay daughter and friends, but I argue that one can never understand how truly important something is unless you see how it impacts someone, either yourself or someone you care about. I think that he was able to reflect and put himself in the shoes of someone he cares about and that drove him to make the decision. What a moving speech.

Earthbound Spirit said...

One thing I learned in a course on critical thinking is that someone who *thinks* will change her/his mind. One who doesn't will cling to a position even in the face of overwhelming evidence. This was an amazing video, and he's gotten a lot of flack for flouting his party's line. He has my deep respect.