Letter to the Republican National Convention from Young Conservatives
August 15, 2012
The Honorable Robert F. McDonnell
Chair, Republican National Committee Platform Committee
Republican National Committee
310 First Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Dear Governor McDonnell:
We, the undersigned, make up the leadership committee of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry. We understand that the Platform Committee will be gathering early next week to develop and finalize the document that will be submitted to the full convention later this month. We appreciate your considering our perspective on this matter.
We are a group of politically active young conservatives who believe strongly that support for the freedom to marry is in line with our core belief in limited government and individual freedom. As President Ronald Reagan said, it is the role of government to "work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back." We feel strongly that excluding committed same-sex couples from marriage does not mesh with those principles. To quote former Vice President Dick Cheney, "freedom means freedom for everyone."
We, as conservatives, have traditionally cited the importance of marriage because it contributes to society and promotes stability and shared responsibility. Marriage makes our nation stronger socially and economically by strengthening families and communities. Committed gay and lesbian couples share with other couples the importance of family and community; worries - like making ends meet or the possibility of losing a job; and hopes and dreams - like finding that special someone to grow old with, and standing in front of friends and family to make a lifetime commitment. Same-sex couples who want to make that commitment in life before family and friends should be able to share in that commitment under law through marriage. And, if we truly believe in family values, then we must value all families.
On this cause, attitudes have shifted rapidly, and continue to shift towards support for the freedom to marry. Nationally, multiple public polls now show there's solid majority support for the freedom to marry. A May 2012 Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that among all Americans, supporters outnumber opponents 53% to 39%. That same poll shows that, among younger Republicans, support for the freedom to marry is approaching majority, with 46% of self-identified Republicans aged 18-44 in support and 46% in opposition. And according to veteran Republican pollster Jan van Lohuizen, only 29% of Republicans oppose any legal recognition for same-sex couples. The trend lines are clear—support for marriage will continue to grow on the right, with younger Republican voters leading the way.
Over the past several years, elected Republicans have played an increasingly important role in advancing freedom to marry legislation. Last year in New York, it was a GOP-led state Senate that moved marriage equality legislation. And earlier this year in New Hampshire, the overwhelmingly GOP controlled New Hampshire House voted down a repeal of the popular freedom to marry law in that state, by a lopsided 211-116 margin, with a majority of GOP lawmakers voting against repeal. To date, 197 Republican state legislators across the nation have stood up for the freedom to marry.
And of course, no one doubts the Republican credentials of former Vice President Dick Cheney, former First Lady Laura Bush, former Solicitor General Ted Olson, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman. They are all supporters of freedom to marry.
We are not new to the political process and understand there are divergent opinions on the freedom to marry within the Republican Party. Yet in this environment with rapidly changing perspectives and discussions taking place around dinner tables throughout the country, we ask that the Party respect these differences by not opposing the freedom to marry in its platform.
Giving people more personal freedom is the foundation of the Republican Party, which, as the Party of Lincoln, has a proud tradition of expanding liberties. We respectfully request that the GOP honor that tradition as it considers how to address the freedom to marry in its plank.
Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry
cc: Ben Key, Executive Director, Platform Committee
James Bopp, Co-Chair, Restoring Constitutional Government Subcommittee
Jane Timken, Co-Chair, Restoring Constitutional Government Subcommittee