In the wake of the disappointing, but expected, Californian ruling on Prop 8, it is worth stepping back and reflecting on the gains elsewhere, and especially on the impact on the churches.
It is well known how rapidly legal recognition of same sex marriage has progressed: first in Iowa, by court order, then in rapid succession Vermont and Maine by legislative action. New Hampshire is not quite there yet, but it is likely just a matter of time - as it is in New York and New Jersey. DC has voted to recognise marriages legally conducted elsewhere, Washington has approved expansion of their civil union regime to 'everything but marriage', and in many other states and city jurisdictions, there have been less dramatic, incremental gains. These have been widely reported and celebrated.
One big advance, and the one that I suspect may be more important for its long term impact on the churches of the world, has drawn remarkably little attention. The day before the Iowa announcement, and drowned out of the news by the drama of developments in Iowa and New England, The Swedish parliament, with the minumum of fuss or fanfare, and the support of all the major parties, voted to make Sweden the fith country in Europe to recognise same sex marriage. For those of us in Europe, especially if we are committed to the ideal of ever closer union, this is obviously more significant than the stop-start progress in some minor American states and cities. But I believe that the siginificance for all of us is substantial, particularly if we are professed Christians. Why?