Twice this week the unthinkable has happened in Mississippi.
First, Ole Miss rallies back and upsets the Crimson Tide.
Now, Republican state Rep. Andy Gipson is acceding on the issue of marriage equality.
Gipson, a Baptist minister and attorney from Braxton, told the Clarion-Ledger for a story today: "I am opposed to same-sex marriage, but I believe the time has come for people of faith in Mississippi to prepare for the overturning of our constitutional ban on it."
Gipson is one of the Legislature's most conservative members, having introduced legislation in recent years aimed at undocumented immigrants and abortion rights—including a (successful) fetal heartbeat bill and a (successful) 20-week abortion ban.
In 2012, Gipson came under fire for referencing Bible passages implying that gay people be put to death. The remarks came in response to President Barack Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage after years of waffling on the question. Gipson called same-sex marriage "horrific social policy," adding:
"Unnatural behavior which results in disease, not the least of which is its high association with the development and spread of HIV/AIDS; 2) Confusing behavior which is harmful to children who have a deep need to understand the proper role of men and women in society and the important differences between men and women, and fathers and mothers; and 3) Undermines the longstanding definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, a definition which has been key to all aspects of social order and prosperity."
Gipson isn't exactly endorsing marriage equality, but the fact that he appears to be telling fellow evangelical conservatives to save their energy fighting gay marriage.
Calling recent federal court decisions affirming gay marriage "the writing on the wall," Gipson said:
“It’s coming. People of religious conviction need to be processing what this means for the culture, and how we will respond to these issues in coming years – how we will maintain our religious convictions in this environment.”
Of course, Gipson is absolutely correct. More people today support marriage equality than don't; this is especially true of young people.
Through a news release, Rob Hill, the Mississippi state director of the Human Rights Campaign and a former pastor said: “Like Rep. Gipson, I am a person of faith, and our faith teaches that we are all God’s children. We also believe in the Golden Rule, to treat others as we would treat ourselves. ... These conversations are not easy and we welcome the opportunity to meet with Rep. Gipson to discuss ways to make our state inclusive for all Mississippians.”