World Vision is blowing up the internet via gay marriage. What's going on?
Just in case you've been living under a rock, let me update you on some of the basics.
1. Rapid Legal Change. The United States is experiencing radical and rapid changes in our cultural and legal stances on gay marriage. At the beginning of 1999, no states allowed same-sex marriages or civil unions. Now, 15 years later, 17 states have legalized gay marriage; 4 have legalized same-sex civil unions; and federal courts have struck down gay-marraige bans as unconstitutional in 5 states. That's a total of 26 states in which gay marriage or civil unions are considered legal (at least by federal courts). If you can do the math, that's a majority of US states. Zero to majority in 15 years. That's fast. (See this map for a very helpful visualization of this change.)
2. Change within the Church. Officially, a few large denominations have accepted gay marriages or unions or given room for local churches and pastors to make their own decisions (eg. Episcopals, some Lutherans groups, United Church of Christ, and Presbyterians). Acting independent of their denominations, quite a few Christian leaders have come out in favor of gay marriage, and some pastors are performing gay marriages or blessing gay "unions" despite prohibitions from their denominations. Furthermore, within the larger Christian Church, opinions "in the pews" are changing much faster. According to this Gallup Poll, 66% of Catholics and 41% of Protestants say "gay/lesbian relations are morally acceptable." Other studies show (like this one), those numbers skyrocket among people under 40 and even more for people under 25. All of this is a drastic change in a very short time.
3. World Vision Changed Policy about Gay Marriage. On March 24, Rich Stearns (WV's US President) announced that WV "will now permit Gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages to be employed" at WV. (If you don't know, World Vision is one of the largest and most respected Christian charities in the world.) Basically, they made a small change in their "Code of Conduct" to reflect the changes mentioned above - including gay marriage as a form of marriage. They still expect their employees to abstain from any sex outside of marriage. The rational was simple (even if bold). WV has a simple mission: to reduce poverty around the world. WV has consistently refused to take stances on divisive issues within the Church: divorce/remarriage, abortion, modes of baptism, women in leadership, evolution, etc. Given the extreme debates currently happening, gay marriage is CLEARLY a debatable issue for Christians (as in it is being debated), and this issue is extremely divisive and emotional. So WV was trying to take a neutral stance to stay out of the debate. WV was trying to say, "Some of our partners think gay marriage is OK, and some don't. We're going to remain neutral and let you guys sort that out yourselves so that we can all work together to combat poverty." Alas, that didn't work - see the next fact.