I learned the hymn “Standing On The Side Of Love” eight years ago when I was working at Theodore Parker Church in Boston, my first UU congregation. Although I liked the message of the song, I felt conflicted about the title’s divisive implications. If we are standing on the side of love that means those on the other side are on the side of fear, or hate, or indifference, or whatever you want to define as the opposite of love. To me, that didn’t seem to be a very Unitarian Universalist perspective. Casting people with different opinions as the enemy was one of the habits of many Christian churches that I disliked most, and one of the principal reasons why I had left the Catholic denomination in which I had grown up.
This past Sunday, as we celebrated the victory of marriage equality in New Jersey, I harbored no ambiguity about singing “Standing On The Side Of Love.” Like “We Shall Overcome” or other civil rights hymns, it is not about defeating other people with different views, but about advocating what is ethically imperative. Homophobia is as wrong as racism or misogyny, no two ways about it. It denies a fundamental truth: that we all share a common humanity and deserve the same rights.
As with racial and gender equality, we have a long way to go before the end of homophobia in institutions and in our hearts and minds. Still, we have good reason to celebrate an important milestone on this journey. It is a worthy and just cause – and it cannot be subject to any moral relativism.