Do young people care about traditional marriage?
Focus on the Family CEO Jim Daly recently conceded to World Magazine that evangelicals are losing the fight for traditional marriage in the polls with young Americans in their 20s and 30s. Gay rights advocates who have sponsored some of those polls agree. However, young conservatives are asking other adults not to count them out of the national debate on conservative values.
Young Republican National Federation Chairwoman Lisa Stickan says membership in their group is growing nationwide ahead of the 2012 election and states that within the YRNF, there is a "groundswell" of support for traditional marriage.
However, in an interview with World Magazine, Daly seemingly conceded that traditional marriage was a losing battle, especially among young adults.
"We're losing on that one, especially among the 20- and 30-somethings: 65 to 70 percent of them favor same-sex marriage," he told the publication.
A Gallup poll released last week found that for the first time, a majority of Americans (53 percent) think same-sex marriage should be recognized by law as valid. Forty-five percent are against it.
The poll mirrored a poll released by the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign in January revealing that 52 percent of Americans support marriage equality.
Molly McKay, director for Marriage Equality, affirmed the polls’ results and commented, "It is a losing issue for Christians."
She noted, "More young people know openly gay people." McKay told The Christian Post that when you know a gay person such as herself, you can't go back to believing traditional marriage messages, which she deems "myths."
YRNF Chairwoman Stickan responded, "Society is evolving; I think that's a fair statement. Many [conservative] people have openly gay friends and no one's judging or looking down upon individuals. But I don't think that diminishes the place of traditional marriage."
What young Christians are doing, McKay observed, is “applying the golden rule" – to do on to others as you would have them do unto you.
A recently released HRC poll seems to confirm McKay's statements.
The HRC poll shows that a majority of Christians support LGBT equality. In the poll, most Christians (Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Orthodox, and Christian "other") said that they oppose LGBT discrimination, bullying, and Christian leaders who condemn the LGBT community. They also agreed that their faith teaches them to treat everyone equally.
Nowhere in the poll, however, did Christians say that they support same-sex marriage.
Stickan maintained that she and other young supporters of traditional marriage have found they can respect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people and their rights while holding on to their position on same-sex marriage.
"I don't think about it [as] if you don't support gay marriage [then] you're going to somehow not speak to gay people or pass all kinds of judgments," she summed.
Stickan believes that in more than one instance, young adults have been cast aside as uninformed and uninterested.
Last week, television news network CBS reported that U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) suggested that young people lack "social values."
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich also said at an Iowa town hall meeting, "It wouldn't be bad to have a test like [the one immigrants have to take on American history] for young Americans before they start voting."
Matthew Segal, Our Time founder and advocate for people under 30, blasted both politicians in a statement.
"It's no wonder that so many young people are cynical about politics when our leaders make remarks that call into question our value in society," he wrote.
He continued, "We are also among the most educated, volunteer-service-oriented generation in history. These statistics do not convey a lack of social value or any shortage of savvy, thoughtful young voters."
He also denounced CNN this month for not reaching out to Americans ages 18-34 for a survey that included questions on whether marriage between gay and lesbian couples should be recognized by the law as valid.
Also weighing in, Stickan said of Gingrich’s comment, "What candidates and parties need to do is make sure that their message and their candidates get out to touch upon some of these voters" rather than wrongly singling out youth.
"To write off a whole demographic as being liberal or socially liberal, I think, is a great disservice to that demographic."
Young adults desire to be taken seriously and to have their voice heard, she emphasized.
Stickan predicts that many young adults concerned with the lack of jobs will be turning a serious eye to presidential candidates with strong fiscal plans next year.
"I think that's an issue ... of economics that [will] also dovetail into their traditional backgrounds or their beliefs."