The People for the American Way is "dedicated to making the promise of America real for every American: Equality. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. The right to seek justice in a court of law. The right to cast a vote that counts. The American Way."
Recently, they issued an insightful report titled "Marriage Equality Opponents Blur Distinction Between Civil And Religious Marriage". The full report is embedded below.
A part of the report worth quoting:
"In focus groups conducted by People For the American Way Foundation in 2008, a number of churchgoers who strongly backed the general principle that gays and lesbians should be free from discrimination on the job, and should have the same rights and legal protections as other Americans, stopped short of applying that principle to marriage, largely because they saw marriage as a religious institution, a covenant between a man, a woman, and God. Helping people understand the difference between civil and religious marriage is crucial to winning broader support for the right of same-sex couples to be legally wed.
In 2006, the American Values Survey, an in-depth poll on religion and values conducted by People For the American Way Foundation, found that when given a three-way choice between allowing same-sex couples to get married, allowing them to form civil unions but not marry, or not providing any legal recognition, 28 percent of Americans supported marriage, 32 percent supported civil unions, and 36 percent supported no recognition. But when those who did not initially support marriage were asked as a follow-up, “If the law guaranteed that no church or congregation would be required to perform marriages for same-sex couples, I would support allowing gay couples to legally marry,” overall support for marriage jumped to 40 percent of the public – a 12 point increase -- and opposition to any recognition dropped to 33 percent.
In 2008, when the same follow-up question was asked on the Faith and American Politics Study by Public Religion Research, the impact was even stronger, with support for marriage equality jumping from 29 percent to 43 percent overall, with a 52 percent majority among mainline Protestants and 47 percent support among Catholics."
This is both encouraging and disheartening. The encouraging aspect is that many people, once realizing the true definition of civil marriage, support the right of gays and lesbians to marry. The disheartening part is how they've been lied to and purposefully confused by the religious right-wing, and even worse, how the No on 8 Campaign was unable to clarify this point for Californian voters.
If we are to win any sort of equality, it's going to be an educational campaign, clearly showing the delineation of the separation of church and state, and to counter every lie anti-gay groups sling at the populace. (Ironic that they preach lying is wrong and then turn around and do it constantly).
As the report summarizes, "The core constitutional value of religious liberty requires that churches and other religious congregations maintain the freedom to decide, in accordance with their religious beliefs, which couples they will marry.
And the core constitutional value of equality for all requires that civil marriage, as a legal institution with significant rights and responsibilities, be available equally to same-sex couples as to opposite-sex couples."
Clearly communicating this will be the core of our victory.