WATCH: Ken Mehlman encourages Iowa Republicans to support the freedom to marry

On Monday night, Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and an influential GOP strategist, spoke to a crowd at a public event at the Davis Brown law firm in Des Moines, Iowa about why marriage matters and why supporting the freedom to marry is consistent with conservative values. 

In the ten-minute speech, Mehlman, who is openly gay and has been working toward growing support for marriage among Republicans for the past several years, explained the importance of civil marriage for same-sex couples. He said:

The reason I'm here today in Iowa is to stand with and to salute the excellent work of men and women who stand in favor of civil marriage because they are conservative, not in spite of being conservative. If you think about what permitting civil marriage is about, it's actually consistent with conservative principles.

You're seeing it across Iowa. It makes a society stronger. It makes it more caring. It makes it more focused on the long term. It creates stability in the lives of children across this country who are raised by two members of the same gender who are loving moms or loving dads and because of what happened in Iowa, now have stability and an ability to know that their home is more secure.

Iowa is a better place today because of the fact that loving couples can be married. It's a freer place, it's a juster place, it's a place with stronger families, it's a place with stronger neighborhoods, it's a place with stronger communities. 

David Kochel, one of the Republican strategists behind GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, also spoke out about why marriage should matter to conservatives. He said, "I think where the Republican Party needs to go is we need to be a more modern party - we need to be a more inclusive party."

This year, Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry has been working to amplify the voices of young people in conservative political movements who support ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. Extending same-sex couples this freedom, the members of the Young Conservatives team say, aligns with basic conservative values of small government and individual liberty. Learn more about Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry HERE.

Watch Ken Mehlman's full speech on why marriage matters to conservatives: