Freedom to Marry, the nationwide campaign for marriage equality, announced today that it has launched a new initiative designed to build support among youthful conservatives for same-sex marriage rights. Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry is aimed at younger conservative Americans for whom economic principles, such as encouraging a free market and lower taxes, are more important that maintaining opposition to abortion rights and same-sex marriage.
The unusual coupling of LGBT and conservative forces echoes the partnership of conservative Ted Olson and liberal David Boies, the two lead attorneys in Perry v. Brown, the federal lawsuit challenging Proposition 8.
Marriage is, after all, a conservative institution—built on monogamy and child-rearing. “Freedom and family are core conservative values,” said conservative commentator and political strategist Margaret Hoover, who is a member of the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry 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.”
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. They will work to end laws in the states that bar same-sex couples from marriage, as well as to repeal the so-called 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 for 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/Wall Street Journal shows 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/Washington Post shows 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 freedom to marry law, with a majority of the GOP voting against repeal. Last year, the GOP-led state Senate in New York advanced voted to legalize same-sex marriage.