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Two Groundbreaking Studies Find Religious Voices Critical to the Advancement of LGBT Equality

New studies from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's National Religious Leadership Roundtable and the Center for American Progress

WASHINGTON - The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's National Religious
Leadership Roundtable and the Center for American Progress released two
groundbreaking reports today analyzing religious and secular advocacy
of marriage equality ballot initiatives in California and Michigan.

Although examining different campaigns in different states in
different years, the two reports draw remarkably similar conclusions
about the need for partnerships between religious and secular
supporters of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
(LGBT) people.

The Task Force's report, A Time to Build Up: Analysis of the No
on Proposition 8 Campaign and Its Implications for Future Pro-LGBTQQIA
Religious Organizing
, examines last fall's Proposition 8 battle in
California, highlighting religious-secular partnerships relevant to
marriage equality. The report was written by the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel,
program director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Institute for
Welcoming Resources, and funded by the Arcus Foundation.

The Center's report, The Faithful Divide Over Wedding Vows: A Profile of Michigan's 2004 Battle Over Marriage Equality,
examines the role that religious groups played in support of and
opposition to Proposal 2, the ballot initiative on marriage equality in
Michigan. It was written by Sally Steenland, senior policy advisor,
Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative, Center for American Progress;
and Jonathan Duffy, senior political science major, Kent State
University, and intern, Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative, Center
for American Progress.

Similarities in the report findings include:

  • Anti-LGBT ballot initiatives are often rooted in conservative
    religious rhetoric. Effective responses require faith voices and
    messages to counteract these claims in order to show religious
    diversity in support of marriage equality and to disprove the notion
    that conservative religious voices are the sole guardians of morality
    on these issues.
  • Secular-religious partnerships are crucial to the success of
    legislative campaigns and to the broader goals of social justice and
    equal rights under the law for LGBT people.
  • Advocates should not write off certain religious communities as
    impossible to win nor overlook any "unlikely" allies, be it the
    Catholic Church, the Mormon Church or African-American churches. While
    some communities may have official pronouncements against marriage
    equality and campaign against it, almost always there are members
    within that community who by conscience have different views.
  • A narrow political campaign frame hinders effective collaboration
    with religious communities. LGBT faith advocates and supporters must
    work within their denominations for full support of LGBT rights,
    including marriage equality and adoption by same-sex couples.
  • Media work that takes seriously the language and culture of
    religious people is critical. It is crucial to quickly rebut inaccurate
    religious arguments and misleading statements from anti-equality
    forces. Furthermore, the message of LGBT rights should be framed in a
    mainstream way so that people feel connected to the issue. In addition,
    non-LGBT organizations, such as civil and human rights and faith
    groups, should be sought as campaign allies.
  • It is important to have both a robust on-the-ground organization
    and an effective media campaign, especially in larger states where much
    of the battle is fought over the airwaves.

Michigan report author Sally Steenland says, "The findings of these
two reports are highly relevant for future battles on marriage and
family equality because these are deeply moral issues. Faith voices
have much to contribute to the debate and authentic religious-secular
partnerships are essential to achieving human and civil rights for LGBT

The Rev. Rebecca Voelkel says of the California report: "As secular
and religious organizers, we all strive for a country whose mores,
culture and laws reflect the dreams of our forebears - life, liberty,
the pursuit of happiness and genuine justice for all, including
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersex
people and families. Although there yet remains uncertainty and
unknowing between us, these shared visions and values provide us with a
solid foundation upon which to build strong partnerships."

Representing the Arcus Foundation, funder of the California report,
Tom Kam, director of the Religion and Values Program, says,
"Collectively, these reports recognize the power of conservative
religious voices to utilize their moral authority to influence public
debate on LGBT equality. It is time to respond to these voices with
similar authority, fully incorporating within the leadership of the
LGBT movement and the public debate, the LGBT and allied religious
leaders whose lives and voices speak the truth about our civil and
moral equality." The goal of the Arcus Foundation's Religion and Values
Program is to achieve LGBT moral equality.

Download the reports:

Download a copy of A Time to Build Up: Analysis of the No on
Proposition 8 Campaign and Its Implications for Future Pro-LGBTQQIA
Religious Organizing at

Download a copy of The Faithful Divide Over Wedding Vows: A Profile of Michigan's 2004 Battle Over Marriage Equality at

To learn more about the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, follow us on Twitter: @TheTaskForce.


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