Young People Are Leading the Way on Marriage and Family Equality

Last week's Washington Post-ABC News poll revealed that a supermajority now supports marriage equality, and half believe it's a constitutional right.

This week the Pew Research Center released its own numbers. 54 percent of respondents to the Pew poll, conducted in February, support a legal right to marry for gays and lesbians. Ten years ago, that number was just 32 percent. And in June 1996, the earliest available data, it was 27 percent.

Then Pew dug a bit deeper into the generation gap.

18- to 29-year-olds are leading the way overall (69 percent), both among Democrats (77 percent) and Republicans (61 percent). It's in the Republican Party where the generation gap is widest, with 30- to 49-year-olds 18 points behind at 43 percent, 50- to 64-year-olds 31 points behind at 30 percent, and those 65 and older 39 points behind at 22 percent.

The numbers on family equality tell a similar story.

PFAW will continue to support not only the freedom to marry nationwide and but also a definition of family that doesn't rest on parents' sexual orientation or gender identity.

In other LGBT news, new marriage equality litigation continues to pop up in the states, and Michigan has its first openly LGBT federal judge.

Check out even more news from our friends at GLAAD, the Victory Fund, and the Washington Blade.

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In DC, progress toward marriage equality comes amid anti-equality setbacks

By now you’ve likely watched (or heard about) the ABC News interview with President Obama in which he affirmed his support for family equality and the freedom to marry of same-sex couples.

The President gave us new momentum for passing the Respective for Marriage Act and dumping DOMA. Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY08), the bill’s sponsor:

It certainly puts the bill in a better light. It changes the background and it has an impact in moving the bill forward. The bill is developing more and more momentum.

Jo Deutsch, Federal Director for Freedom to Marry, explained why:

It shows a man going from point one — from his own questioning, to talking to family and friends, thinking about his own religious upbringing, from seeing people who are impacted by DOMA — and come to end of that journey and say he is for the freedom to marry. That piece acts as an umbrella over all of what is going on on Capitol Hill. ... Because if President Obama can do it and say he is for the freedom to marry, maybe I can do it too.

We also have new momentum for equality in the military context, first at DOJ, and now at the VA:

The court notice, [filed in Cardona v. Shinseki and] signed by VA General Counsel Will Gunn on behalf of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, says VA will not fight Fifth Amendment claims based on equal protection under the law brought against DOMA.

The memo also says Shinseki believes DOMA should be subject to a “heightened scrutiny” standard, meaning it is up to defendants to prove the law is justifiable under the constitution, as opposed to the “rational basis” standard, which puts the burden on the law’s opponents to prove there is no rational reason for it to exist.

Unfortunately, much work – and anti-equality forces – remain.

Before the House Armed Services Committee passed its FY13 Defense Authorization bill, it adopted two amendments that purport to “defend” DOMA.

  • Section 536 – Provide a “conscience” protection for chaplains and other personnel. Extending to marriage and any other belief regarding the “appropriate and inappropriate expression of human sexuality,” this language will have broad-based discriminatory impact, and it ignores that fact that the military and the First Amendment already provide adequate protections.
  • Section 537– Restrict the use of DOD property against performing same-sex marriage ceremonies. Though DOMA remains in place, there is no reason why facilities shouldn’t be available to same-sex couples whose marriages are recognized at the state level.

Click here for more information from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

When FY13 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations hit the House floor, Amendment 1096 passed, which would withhold funds for any contravention of DOMA, based on the false belief that the government is (or will somehow in the future) start recognizing same-sex marriages. No marriages are being recognized. We’re still enforcing the law. Where’s the contravention?

(The Senate has yet to act on either of these proposals, and it remains to be seen what might later happen in conference. The Defense bill is also subject to a veto threat, based in part on Sections 536 and 537.)

And let’s not forget what Speaker Boehner said, that Republicans are “focused in on the economy,” as if equality is somehow a political distraction. Equality is an economic issue. Same-sex couples and LGBT families need and deserve the economic security that the freedom to marry would provide.

If you haven’t yet, now is the time to add your name to PFAW's petition urging Congress to Dump DOMA and end this unconstitutional, discriminatory policy once and for all.

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President Obama recognizes LGBT families

By now you’ve likely watched (or heard about) the ABC News interview with President Obama in which he affirmed his support for the freedom to marry of same-sex couples.

The President said that his daughters, and their friends with same-sex couples as parents, helped his views to evolve.

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The President also said:

When I meet gay and lesbian couples, when I meet same-sex couples, and I see-- how caring they are, how much love they have in their hearts-- how they're takin' care of their kids. When I hear from them the pain they feel that somehow they are still considered-- less than full citizens when it comes to-- their legal rights-- then-- for me, I think it-- it just has tipped the scales in that direction.

It’s clear that, for the President, this isn’t just about couples getting married. It’s also about couples raising children with the sense of security that comes from family equality.

Just an hour after the big news broke, family equality was front and center at the New York Stock Exchange.

Our friends at Family Equality Council rang yesterday’s closing bell in celebration of International Family Equality Day.

PFAW and the African American Ministers in Action Equal Justice Task Force have joined with Family Equality Council and a broad coalition to support a wonderful bill called the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which would withhold a portion of federal funding from entities that discriminate in adoption and foster care placements based on the LGBT or marital status of prospective parents, or the LGBT status of the children involved. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would provide technical assistance to all affected entities. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) would study compliance with the law and any continued discrimination.

So after you add your name to PFAW's petition urging Congress to Dump DOMA and end this unconstitutional, discriminatory policy once and for all, take a few minutes and call your Representative and Senators in support of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act. It’s H.R. 1681 in the House and S. 1770 in the Senate.

Click here for more from PFAW.

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