Marriage-Equality Group Seeks Young Conservative Support
On July 10 in Washington, D.C., Freedom to Marry, a national same-sex marriage campaign, launched Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry. The new group is aimed to build support among young people across America that identify as conservative.
You may well be scratching your head and asking, "Why bother?" But give it a listen: Many young conservatives want you to know that they believe that "freedom" and "family" are core values, and that marriage equality, rather than being scorned, should be embraced as a conservative notion.
"We have a historic opportunity to reaffirm these important values by supporting the fundamental freedom to marry for all Americans," said Margaret Hoover, a conservative media commentator and political strategist.
"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," said Hoover, a member of the group’s leadership committee.
The new campaign is part of Freedom to Marry’s desire to demonstrate broad and growing support for marriage across the ideological spectrum. In a release, Freedom to Marry said 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 will work to encourage more conservatives to add a perspective that differs from mainstream conservative politics in this country. More importantly, Freedom to Marry officials told EDGE that the group will work to end laws in the states that bar same-sex couples from marriage, as well as the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Straddling the Political Divide
"As Republicans," said U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) at the group’s July launch, "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. We also believe in equality of opportunity rather than of outcome.
"Most importantly," she added, "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."
Despite being on the right on most other issues, Ros-Lehtinen has long been a point person for gay rights on the Republican side of the congressional aisle. She co-sponsored the Respect for Marriage Act to repeal DOMA, among other issues. She represents some heavily gay areas in Dade County (Miami), including South Beach, Coconut Grove and Coral Gables, as well as Key West.
"The center of political gravity has shifted for good," Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry, told EDGE. "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."