U.S. Confidence in Organized Religion at Low Point

PRINCETON, NJ — Forty-four percent of Americans have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in “the church or organized religion” today, just below the low points Gallup has found in recent years, including 45% in 2002 and 46% in 2007. This follows a long-term decline in Americans’ confidence in religion since the 1970s.

via U.S. Confidence in Organized Religion at Low Point.

Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry Launches, Gives Voice to Growing Number of Conservatives Who Support Marriage for Same-Sex Couples – MarketWatch

Young Conservatives Launch Campaign to Encourage More Conservatives to Stand Up, Speak Out, and Support the Freedom to Marry

Today, Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide, is launching Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, a new campaign to highlight and build support for the freedom to marry among young people across America who identify as conservative. The campaign launch will take place 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, 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.”

Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry is part of Freedom to Marry’s campaign to demonstrate the broad and growing support for marriage 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 for the Freedom to Marry will work to encourage more conservatives to stand up, speak out and support the freedom to marry by joining and adding new perspectives and experiences to the national conversation about marriage. 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 a freedom to marry law. A memo by Republican pollster Jan van Lohuizen highlights that “opinion is shifting across the board, including among Republicans.”

The kickoff event will feature 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,” says 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,” adds 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.”

Members of the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry Leadership Committee include Hoover, Stowell, and Shearer, as well as:

Tyler Deaton, a lobbyist, political consultant, and Secretary and Finance Chairman of the New Hampshire Young Republicans and the Executive Director of New Hampshire Republicans for Freedom and Equality;

Nicole Neily, Vice President of Dezenhall Resources and the former Executive Director of the Independent Women’s Forum;

Madeline Koch, a Manager of Government Affairs for Comcast in St. Paul, MN, former staffer at the Republican National Convention, and former press intern for former Republican Senator Norm Coleman;

Jason Kuznicki, a Research Fellow at the Cato Institute and editor of Cato Unbound

Sarah Longwell, Vice President at Berman and Company, a communications firm in Washington, D.C. that defends free market principles;

and Will Rinehart, a Research Fellow at TechFreedom and former Koch Summer Fellow at the Progress and Freedom Foundation.

For more information on Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, visit http://www.freedomtomarry.org/pages/young-conservatives-for-the-freedom-to-marry .

Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.

via Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry Launches, Gives Voice to Growing Number of Conservatives Who Support Marriage for Same-Sex Couples – MarketWatch.

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State certifies petition to place same-sex marriage law on ballot – Baltimore Sun

Maryland’s Board of Elections certified a petition Tuesday to put the state’s new same-sex marriage law on the November ballot, the final procedural step needed for voters to challenge the controversial law.

“We’re excited, we’re on the ballot,” said Dereck McCoy, executive director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, a church-led group pushing to repeal the law. “We’re glad that we were able to have a loud say

via State certifies petition to place same-sex marriage law on ballot – Baltimore Sun.

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ADL Files Brief in 9th Circuit Opposing Section 3 Of The ‘Defense Of Marriage Act’

New York, NY, July 11, 2012 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has filed an amicus briefjoined by 23 faith leaders and religious and cultural organizations challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of the 1996 “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA).Joining ADL on the brief was a distinguished group of religious and cultural organizations representing many different faith traditions and communities. 

The case now pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is Golinkski v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

“A diverse and impressive coalition of religious organizations challenging the application of DOMA signed on to our brief to argue that religious views of marriage must be kept distinct from a civil understanding of marriage,” said Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director. “The ill-conceived and discriminatory 1996 law flouts this longstanding constitutional principle not only by writing one particular religious understanding of marriage into federal law, but also by failing to provide a secular reason for doing so.”

In February 2012, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White of the Northern District of California declared DOMA unconstitutional, holding that equal protection of the law extends to all civilly married couples — including same-sex couples — while recognizing the Constitutional freedom of religious institutions to choose how to define religious marriage.

“While religious motivation improperly drove DOMA, and reflected a religious and moral condemnation of gay men and lesbians, the result of the law has gone beyond this. DOMA has had a real impact on real people,” said Ms. Lauter. “Yet, as this brief demonstrates, there are important religious voices that strongly oppose DOMA, too. Our coalition stands squarely behind the proposition that the LGBT community should not be denied due process and equal protection under the law, particularly under the guise of religion and morality.”

The law firm Ropes and Gray LLP prepared the friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of ADL.Signatories to the brief include the Interfaith Alliance Foundation, the Union for Reform Judaism, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, Hadassah, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the People for the American Way Foundation on behalf of the African American Ministers Leadership Council, the California Council of Churches, the Japanese American Citizens League, and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

via ADL Files Brief in 9th Circuit Opposing Section 3 Of The ‘Defense Of Marriage Act’.

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High-powered lesbians launch first-of-its-kind super PAC to champion women’s, gay rights – The Washington Post

SAN FRANCISCO — As a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, her politically active family’s sole Democrat, and a sister with three brothers, Laura Ricketts is comfortable being the odd woman out.

But it has not escaped her notice that lesbians such as her are in the minority at political events for gay donors, whether it’s a White House reception or a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who hopes to become the first openly lesbian member of the U.S. Senate.

So Ricketts immediately embraced an idea by a fellow Chicago businesswoman who approached her a few months ago about creating a first-of-its kind political action committee to champion candidates and causes that appeal to lesbian voters.

LPAC, as the independent super PAC was christened, will be launched Wednesday with the freedom to spend unrestricted amounts of money for or against candidates.

“Being a woman and being gay is really a unique position in our society,” said Ricketts, a co-chair of the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Leadership Council and one of President Barack Obama’s fundraising bundlers. “I know in my experience of activism, oftentimes it makes a difference if something is women-focused. It’s likely to get the attention of women much more easily.”

via High-powered lesbians launch first-of-its-kind super PAC to champion women’s, gay rights – The Washington Post.

Democrats Fight DOMA In Court — But 60 Stay Home

One third of House Democrats broke with their leaders today and kept their names off a brief urging a federal appeals court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which limits federal recognition of marriages to those between one man and one woman.

The majority of Democrats joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s argument, which her office described in a news release as “the Democratic Members’ brief,” but the break among Democrats offers a glimpse at remaining divisions inside the party.

Pelosi, joined by Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and 130 other House Democrats, told the federal appeals court in California that they believe Karen Golinski should succeed in her lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of DOMA’s federal definition of “marriage” and “spouse.”

via Democrats Fight DOMA In Court — But 60 Stay Home.

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Some businesses see benefits to pro-gay stance – Bottom Line

With its “Legalize Love” campaign announced this week, Google became the latest in a growing number of companies to publicly take a position in support of gay rights.

Far from being simply feel-good initiatives, these moves are highly calculated, marketing experts say. Companies may be embracing the rainbow, but the motivating color is still green.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is a huge market with buying power of some $790 billion annually in the U.S. alone, according to Witeck-Combs Communications. And gays have influence among the straight consumers who are their friends and relatives.

For many marketers, that is too much to leave lying on the table, even if they risk some backlash from consumers opposed to expanding gay rights. Companies “have to satisfy shareholders at the end of the day,” said Bob Witeck, founder and president of Witeck-Combs, a marketing firm.

via Some businesses see benefits to pro-gay stance – Bottom Line.