Marriage equality is getting support from an unexpected source with today's launch of Evangelicals for Marriage Equality.
"As Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, we believe you can be a devout, Bible-believing evangelical and support the right of same-sex couples to be recognized by the government as married," reads the organization's statement of belief on its website. "Our commitment to following Christ leads us to speak out for equal treatment under the law for others -- whether or not they share our religious convictions."
The Washington, D.C.-based group was founded by two young, straight evangelical Christians -- Josh Dickson, the former deputy director of faith outreach for the Democratic National Committee, and Michael Saltsman, vice president at a research and communications firm in D.C. and a frequent commentator in newspapers and on television.
Their view reflects the strong support for marriage equality among members of the millennial generation, says Brandan Robertson, an evangelical Christian blogger and activist who serves as national spokesman for the group.
"As spokesperson for the organization, I represent a growing number of millennial evangelicals that believes it's possible to be a faithful Christian with a high regard for the authority of the Bible and a faithful supporter of civil marriage equality," Robertson writes in an article published today on Time's website. He notes that 43 percent of evangelicals aged 18 to 33 support marriage equality, compared with 27 percent of evangelicals overall, according to the Public Religion Research Institute.
"Are evangelicals who support civil marriage for same-sex couples watering down their faith to adapt to secular society?" Robertson asks in the piece. "Not at all. Instead, we're making a distinction between theology and politics." Some evangelicals believe same-sex relationships are sinful, he says, but others do not. It's possible, he says, for churches to maintain their right not to solemnize same-sex marriages while supporting the freedom to marry in the civil sphere.
As the group launches, it's apparent that it's meeting some resistance in the evangelical world. According to a post on its website, it had planned to run a full-page ad in an evangelical publication to announce its formation, but it was rejected by three -- Christianity Today, Relevant, and World Magazine. The first two objected to the ad's content, while a World spokesman said simply that the magazine would "pass on the opportunity." The ad reads in part, "There are hundreds of verses in the Bible that talk about love. There aren't any that talk about the definition of civil marriage. It's time for a new evangelical conversation about civil marriage equality."