Jim Wallis, head of the religious left organization Sojourners, announced his support for same-sex marriage in an article posted Friday at The Huffington Post.
Wallis, long a champion of liberal causes, said he was most concerned about the decline of marriage in America, not who wanted to get married. He wants to encourage liberals and conservatives in a renewal of the marriage covenant, including same-sex couples in the discussion.
“Marriage needs some strengthening,” he said in the interview. “Let’s start with marriage, and then I think we have to talk about, now, how to include same-sex couples in that deeper understanding of marriage. I want a deeper commitment to marriage that is more and more inclusive, and that’s where I think the country is going.”
Wallis had previously supported civil unions for same-sex couples but said marriage should be preserved for men and women. In a 2008 conversation with Christianity Today, Wallis defended traditional marriage: “I don’t think the sacrament of marriage should be changed. Some people say that Jesus didn’t talk about homosexuality, and that’s technically true. But marriage is all through the Bible, and it’s not gender-neutral.
I have never done a blessing for a same-sex couple. I’ve never been asked to do one. I’m not sure that I would.”
But on Friday, when asked simply whether he supported same-sex marriage, Wallis said, “Yes.”
Despite his change of position, Wallis said he supports the freedom of others, including churches, to disagree. People who don’t support same-sex marriage should not be called “bigots,” he said, adding, “On the issue of gay marriage, you can be supportive of same-sex couples being able to have the same benefits that straight couples have, but you can also be in favor of religious freedom for faith communities to figure this out in their own time, in their own scriptures, their own way.”