Windmeyer was raised Catholic, but although he still defines himself that way, he no longer attends church services regularly. “I don’t want to not feel welcome anymore,” he says.
Could Windmeyer’s popular column represent one possible way forward amid the bitter stalemate between gay rights activists and the — often religious — supporters of traditional marriage?
From an interview with Windmeyer about his friendship with Cathy, here are five lessons for people on both sides of the marriage argument:
1. Let’s talk to each other
“We as an organization decided to put down our picket signs and come to the table. But it took Dan reaching out to me, it took me trusting him and actually being willing to sit down with the man. It all has to start with dialogue and understanding. To have dialogue with someone doesn’t mean you’re going to agree with them, but it can model respect and civility in a way that creates an actual relationship.
“Now, that’s not going to be true of everyone. And I want to be clear about that. There are people who have very strong beliefs who, when you talk to them, they’re not going to have respect or civility. And that happens on both sides of this argument, and particularly with Dan and me, we went to the table and we wanted to have a discussion that was authentic, and that dialogue had to be one of mutual respect.
“Often, in this country, we have such heated rhetoric, which has been the case around Chick-fil-A, since Dan even said his comment, and people started building on what that meant. Rightly or wrongly so, that creates division. We can blame that on one another for that division, that rhetoric, but each one of us has a responsibility to not fuel hate and to truly come together to listen and respect. That has to happen first with dialogue and sitting down and hearing, not just hearing with our ears but truly taking in, as someone of faith, what they’re talking about.
“Our organization, Campus Pride, teaches our young adults to engage in dialogue — respectful and civil dialogue. My opportunity with Dan was to not only speak but to role-model, to walk the walk. Dan saw it as an opportunity from his faith to minister in a way where he didn’t know how this was going to end up. We are still on this path. It is not complete. But that dialogue is still occurring.