Part 1: 2014-SEP: Liberty Education Forum (LEF) starts
new group: "Evangelicals for Marriage Equality"
We use acronyms:
"SSM" to represent "same-sex marriage"
"LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals,
"LGB" to refer to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
2014-SEP: Liberty Education Forum launched a new evangelical Christian group to promote marriage equality:
Liberty Education Forum (LEF) is a politically non-partisan and non-profit evangelical Christian group. Their main goal is to convince their fellow conservative Christians in the United States that the LGBT community should enjoy the same rights, freedoms, and protections as do heterosexuals. 1
During 2014-SEP, the Forum launched a new group called Evangelicals for Marriage Equality (EME). This group concentrates specifically on the right of LGBT's to marry the person that they love and to whom they have made a lifetime commitment. 2
EME is very different from many fundamentalist and other evangelical groups that also contain "marriage"or "family" in their name, like:
American Family Association, *
Family Research Council, *
Family Research Institute, *
Focus on the Family,
Illinois Family Institute, * and
National Organization for Marriage. 3
These six groups provide much of the organized opposition to marriage equality in the U.S.
EME takes the opposite position. They are a pro-family organization whose prime goal is to support equal access to civil marriage by both opposite-sex and same-sex couples.
2014-SEP: Current status of marriage equality in the U.S.:
The EME was formed at a critical time in the development of marriage equality in North America, when:
Loving, committed same-sex couples could freely marry in 19 states and the District of Columbia, but are prohibited from doing so in 31 states.
About 45% of the U.S. population lived in areas where same-sex couples could marry.
Most of the population in North America -- interpreted here as the United States and Canada -- lived in a states, province, territory, or one District with marriage equality.
Five essentially identical lawsuits had worked their way through the federal court system by the end of 2014-SEP and have now been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. They have since been joined by additional cases. Near the end of 2014, or early in 2015, the court is expected to announce which appeals, if any, will be granted certiorari -- i.e. be considered by the court. Hearings will probably be held in the Spring of 2015, with the high court ruling issued in late 2015-JUN. That ruling could:
Make marriage available to same-sex couples across the entire country, or
Uphold the constitutionality of the bans on SSM that exist in 31 states, or
Forcibly divorces tens of thousands of same-sex married couples against their will, or
Have some other impact on same-sex couples.
National polls show that about 55% of American adults favor marriage equality. Over the previous decade, support for same-sex marriage has been increasing by about 1 to 2 percentage points per year and opposition has been dropping by about the same amount. This may seem like a miniscule rate. However, over a decade it is an enormous change that would increase the margin in favor of same-sex marriage by 30 percentage points. It is similar to the rate at which acceptance of interracial marriage back shifted in the late 20th century
"Polling from the Public Religion Research Institute shows that just 27 percent of all white evangelical Protestants support marriage equality. This number is much higher among the younger generation: the same report found that 43 percent of 18- to 33-year-old white evangelical Protestants identified as supporters of marriage equality. 4
The Public Religion Research Institute (PPRI) states:
"Nearly 6-in-10 (59%) black Millennial's say gay and lesbian people should be allowed to legally marry, compared to only 39% of black Americans overall.
White evangelical Protestant Millennial's are more than twice as likely to favor same- sex marriage as the oldest generation of white evangelical Protestants (43% vs. 19%)." 5
2014-SEP: Current status of marriage equality in the U.S. (Cont'd):
"Millennial's" are a.k.a. the "Millennial Generation" or "Generation Y."
Millennial are the:
"... generation born between 1982 and sometime in the early 2000's. However, these boundaries aren't set in stone." 6
The youngest millennial's are in their early teen years. Older millennial's are in their very early 30's. They are probably the first generation where most have counted a member of the LGBT community as a close friend or relative. They have the benefit of learning first hand what a homosexual or bisexual sexual orientation actually involves.
A conservative news outlet, The Blaze, quoting the PPRI report, states:
"Another element to come from the survey is the belief held by the majority of the nation (58 percent) that religious groups are alienating young people by being too judgmental on gay issues.
24 percent of those who left their childhood faith and are now unaffiliated say that negative treatment of gays or teachings surrounding homosexuality were important or very important factors in their decision to leave the faith.
This proportion was even higher among Millennial's, individuals ages 18 to 33. Thirty-one percent of these people said that this issue was either somewhat or very important to their decision to disassociate with their childhood faith." 7
The future of evangelical Christianity in the United States may well be profoundly influenced by how well, how quickly, and in what direction evangelical believers can heal their inter-generational divide over marriage equality.
Organizations marked here with an asterisk (*) have been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as as anti-gay groups whose propaganda is so extreme that the Center has classified them as "hate groups." See: Evelyn Schlatter, "18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda," Southern Poverty Law Center, Intelligence Report, 2010-Winter, at: http://www.splcenter.org/
Robert P. Jones, et al., "A shifting landscape," Public Religion Research Institute, 2014-FEB-26, at: http://publicreligion.org
"Survey | A Shifting Landscape: A Decade of Change in American Attitudes about Same-Sex Marriage and LGBT Issues," Public Religion Research Institute, 2014-FEB-26, at: http://publicreligion.org/