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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 13 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 28
New marriage equality campaign aims to attract young conservatives
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New marriage equality campaign aims to attract young conservatives

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

On July 10, Freedom to Marry, a broad-based coalition advocating marriage equality, launched Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, a new campaign to highlight and build support for the freedom to marry among young people across the country who identify as conservative.

The new group was announced at a kickoff event in Washington, D.C.

'Freedom and family are core conservative values,' said conservative commentator, political strategist, and media personality Margaret Hoover, a member of the Young Conservatives' leadership committee. 'We have a historic opportunity to reaffirm these important values by supporting the fundamental freedom to marry for all Americans. Now is the time for a rising generation of voters and leaders to embrace these virtues and join Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry.'

Young Conservatives is part of Freedom to Marry's campaign to demonstrate broad and growing support for marriage equality across the ideological spectrum. Members of the group will make the case that the freedom to marry should not be a partisan question, and that supporting the freedom to marry fulfills basic conservative values of responsibility and community as well as limited government and individual freedom.

Members of Young Conservatives will work to encourage more conservatives to stand up, speak out, and support marriage equality by joining and adding new perspectives and experiences to the national conversation about marriage. They will work to repeal state laws that bar same-sex couples from marriage as well as the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

'As Republicans we believe in limited government and we believe that the best way for the federal government to spur growth and jobs is to get out of the way and let small and medium businesses thrive,' said Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is speaking at the launch event and is a Republican co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act. 'We also believe in equality of opportunity rather than of outcome. Most importantly, we believe that the individual and the family are the central engines in our society. The right of individuals to lead their lives without government intrusion is a bedrock conservative principle, and it is much more than just about sexual orientation. It is about the fundamental rights we all share as Americans - it is about equality for all with no exceptions.'

'The center of political gravity has shifted for good,' said Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry. 'The freedom to marry is fast becoming a bipartisan value embraced by all Americans who believe that love and commitment deserve support and protection. Freedom to Marry applauds this group of young conservatives for standing up to make the case.'

Support for the freedom to marry has been accelerating at historically dramatic rates and has grown in every group, including right-of-center voters. A March poll by NBC and The Wall Street Journal found that among Republicans, support for the freedom to marry has grown by 41%, and among moderates by 40%, since 2009. A May poll by ABC News and The Washington Post showed that 46% of self-identified Republicans aged 18-44 are in favor of the freedom to marry. In March, the overwhelmingly Republican-controlled New Hampshire House voted down repeal of the state's popular marriage equality law, with a majority of the GOP voting against repeal. Last year, the GOP-led state Senate in New York advanced a freedom-to-marry law. A recent memo by Republican pollster Jan van Lohuizen highlights that 'opinion is shifting across the board, including among Republicans.'

The kickoff event featured members of the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry leadership committee discussing their support for the freedom to marry.

'As a conservative, I find efforts to exclude same-sex couples from marriage to be both wrong and completely off-task,' said Craig Stowell, an Operation Iraqi Freedom Marine Corps veteran and a member of the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry leadership committee. 'I take freedom seriously and want my best friend and brother, who is Gay, to have the same freedom as everyone else to marry the person he loves. I hope Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry will inspire other conservatives to do what is right and support loving and committed same-sex couples' freedom to marry.'

'The more we think about and talk about this with other conservatives, the more we can understand why the denial of marriage to same-sex couples is wrong,' added Torrey Shearer, a government relations professional in Washington, D.C., and a member of the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry leadership committee. 'Marriage strengthens families, encourages shared responsibility, and promotes stability in our communities. There is really significant change taking place among conservatives - especially young conservatives - about the freedom to marry, and I hope my involvement in this campaign will accelerate our progress.'

For more information on the group, visit www.freedomtomarry.org/pages/young-conservatives-for-the-freedom-to-marry.

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