(Photo: REUTERS/Phil McCarten)
Colorado evangelical pastor Ted Haggard, who was involved in a sex and drug scandal six years ago, appears to have changed his earlier position against same-sex marriage. In an online debate, he said while biblical law is against homosexual marriage, the state should allow it.
"We've reached a point where human dignity and mutual respect is so important," Haggard said in a recent online debate with Rabbi Benjamin Hecht, director of Orthodox Jewish think tank Nishma.
Responding to the question, "Should same-sex marriage be allowed by the state?" he went on to say, "If someone is dealing with same-sex attraction or homosexuality, and they want someone to be their life partner of the same gender, though we would oppose that in our churches, it should be allowed by the state."
Haggard shared this view during the debate, hosted on deeyoon.com, while maintaining that God intends marriage to be between a man and a woman. He said the roles of the state and religious communities are different. "The state's role is to protect people equally," he emphasized.
In January, when Haggard appeared on an episode of ABC's "Wife Swap," he said he was "hesitant" about same-sex marriage. He said he was against gay marriage and rewriting the traditional definition of marriage, but that he was in favor of allowing civil partnerships and welcomes everyone into his church.
Haggard, previously the head of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), was also pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, the 14,000-member church he helped found. He was forced to resign from both positions after a gay prostitute came forward in 2006 and alleged that Haggard had paid him for sex and illegal drugs for three years.
Haggard and his family lived in Arizona for several years following his downfall. In 2011, he started a small church in the basement of his Colorado Springs home.