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The Long Game – Twenty Years of Same-Sex Marriage and the Moral Revolution that Made It Possible


By Rosaria Butterfield
May 18, 2024

MY CHRISTIAN NEIGHBOR KNOCKED on my door and asked if we could talk. I smiled, but he looked ­uncharacteristically burdened. My just-waking toddler snuggled on my hip. Her hair smelled of apple juice and yogurt.


“I have been praying for a woman who is—or was—a lesbian professor from Syracuse University. Her name was on a prayer list for the graduate students in the philosophy group. I have been praying for her since 1997. I think she is you.”


I felt gut-punched.


“Are you—were you—Rosaria Champagne?” my neighbor asked gently.


With those words, my compartmentalized life imploded.


It was 2008. Prop 8—a California ballot proposition and state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage—was dominating the news while I tried vigilantly not to notice. After all, I’d been busy: When the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 declared anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas, and then–San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom ushered in gay marriage in February 2004, I was a newly married church planter’s wife caring for a baby and fostering a traumatized teenager. In May 2004, as Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to recognize same-sex marriage, I was focused on trying to live 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”


As a new Christian and a new wife, I was experiencing exuberant Christian liberty and freedom from my past sins. But my memories persisted. Not as homosexual longings but as residue, like dirt lodged in grout. If my old sexual sin had passed away, why was it still a source of shame? Why couldn’t I simply erase it from my biography?


Maybe it was, in part, because …

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