Ted Haggard, the disgraced-then-revived evangelical Colorado pastor notorious for a 2006 drug and gay sex scandal that saw him booted from the pulpit of the 14,000-member church he helped found, now believes the state should legalize same-sex marriage.
That's what Haggard argued in an online debate Monday with Rabbi Benjamin Hecht, director of Orthodox Jewish think tank Nishma. The pastor, who in 2011 started a small, inclusive church in the basement of his Colorado Springs home, made a nuanced yet affirmative argument responding to the debate prompt, "Should same-sex marriage be allowed by the state?"
"We've reached a point where human dignity and mutual respect is so important," Haggard said in the debate hosted on Deyoon.com, "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 said that he believes that God's plan for marriage is a heterosexual union between a man and a woman. But Haggard sees a distinction between biblical law and civil law, and says "we need to be careful not to inculcate [biblical law] into civil law."
That's a departure from Haggard's position earlier this year, when in January he appeared on an episode of Wife Swap and said he was "hesitant" about marriage equality.
Watch the entire eight-minute debate here.