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Celebrate love by embracing it! How to Change your Public Position on Marriage  
Love wins! 97% of legislators who voted FOR marriage for gay couples won reelection. 
Love conquers all! Americans say marriage for gay couples doesn’t threaten religious liberty.
Third Way’s bipartisan Commitment Campaign is designed to help policymakers and advocates persuade Middle America to strongly support marriage for gay couples. To learn more, visit www.thirdway.org/commitment.

Third Way’s bipartisan Commitment Campaign is designed to help policymakers and advocates persuade Middle America to strongly support marriage for gay couples. To learn more, visit www.thirdway.org/commitment.

Gays, God, But Not Guns: How Culture War Politics Has Changed And How It Hasn’t

By Brian Beutler, Talking Points Memo

Greg Tropino Jr. displays a pink-colored handgun at G. A. T. Guns in Dundee, Ill. on June 28, 2010.

Back in the late 1990s, social issues were the GOP’s raison d’être.

With the economy thriving, Republicans famously kept their political footing by fighting Democrats over God, guns and gays. Immigration was a winning issue for the GOP too. The list went on.

Fifteen years later, the dynamic has almost completely reversed. Two years ago, Republicans were playing footsie with the idea of amending the Constitution to deny citizenship to the children of unauthorized immigrants U.S. Today, five months after President Obama’s re-election, they’re coalescing around legislation that could ultimately turn 11 million immigrants into voters.

Obama’s victory was likewise the bellow that triggered an avalanche of political support for marriage equality.

But when it comes to guns, things don’t look much different than they did just over a decade ago. In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, elected officials still lie in paralytic fear of the NRA. And supporters of new gun regulations are taking a close look at what makes their issue immune to the demographic and cultural phenomena that have seemingly changed the politics of gay rights, immigration, and other issues forever.

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WATCH: Is the fight for gay marriage the new civil rights movement?

Earlier today The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart hosted a Google+ Hangout about the state of marriage in America. He was joined by the Center for American Progress’s Winnie Stachelberg, Third Way’s Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, Capital Insight’s Jon Cohen and National Black Justice Coalition’s Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks.

Marriage in the Supreme Court: What Could Happen? (Hollingsworth v. Perry)
The Supreme Court has announced that it will hear two cases this term involving marriage for gay couples. This chart explains some possible outcomes for the case that challenges California’s Proposition 8: Hollingsworth v. Perry. The Court will likely hear oral arguments next week and will render a decision by the end of June 2013. 
Read more details in our newest memo: Supreme Court Oral Argument Cheat Sheet: The Marriage Cases.

Marriage in the Supreme Court: What Could Happen? (Hollingsworth v. Perry)

The Supreme Court has announced that it will hear two cases this term involving marriage for gay couples. This chart explains some possible outcomes for the case that challenges California’s Proposition 8: Hollingsworth v. Perry. The Court will likely hear oral arguments next week and will render a decision by the end of June 2013. 

Read more details in our newest memo: Supreme Court Oral Argument Cheat Sheet: The Marriage Cases.

Marriage in the Supreme Court: What Could Happen? (United States v. Windsor)
The Supreme Court has announced that it will hear two cases this term involving marriage for gay couples. This chart explains some possible outcomes for the case that challenges the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): United States v. Windsor. The Court will likely hear oral arguments next week and will render a decision by the end of June 2013. 
Read more details in our newest memo: Supreme Court Oral Argument Cheat Sheet: The Marriage Cases.

Marriage in the Supreme Court: What Could Happen? (United States v. Windsor)

The Supreme Court has announced that it will hear two cases this term involving marriage for gay couples. This chart explains some possible outcomes for the case that challenges the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): United States v. Windsor. The Court will likely hear oral arguments next week and will render a decision by the end of June 2013. 

Read more details in our newest memo: Supreme Court Oral Argument Cheat Sheet: The Marriage Cases.

From ambivalence to ‘yes’ on marriage equality

By Jonathan Capehart, The Washington Post

The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will take on two cases involving same-sex marriage. This is definitely cause for celebration. Gay couples looking for the respect and stability that comes with marriage might finally get equal protection under the law. But as Adam Nagourney of the New York Times reported yesterday,  “[A]mid the celebration, there were signs of concern over how the Supreme Court might rule.”

Don Romesburg, an associate professor of women and gender studies at California’s Sonoma State University who is gay, told Nagourney, “It is frightening to have our basic rights as citizens in the hands of just nine people, when four or five of them are deeply ambivalent, at best, about our very existence.”

Yet, over the years, we have seen the overall views of the American people move at breakneck speed from “deeply ambivalent” to growing acceptance.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public life released a series of charts last month that bear this out.

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Attitudes are changing. Between 2001 and 2012, support for same-sex marriage rose 13 percent, from 35 percent to 48 percent. The number of those opposed dropped 14 percent, from 57 percent in 2001 to 43 percent in 2012.

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On “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” yesterday, George Will said, “Quite literally, the opposition to gay marriage is dying.” That’s because those most opposed to marriage equality are older Americans, the “Silent Generation.” But as you see in the chart above, support for same-sex marriage has been increasing among every generation  of Americans. The Millennials and Generation X’ers are leading the way. But a report from the centrist think tank Third Way convincingly challenges the conventional wisdom espoused by Will.

“One often-cited reason for the change is that younger voters with more accepting views are replacing older voters in the population,” Lanae Erickson of Third Way and Gregory B. Lewis of Georgia State University write. “The more important reason, though, is that Americans in every demographic, political, and religious group across the country are changing their minds on this issue.”

Now we wait to see who among the justices of the Supreme Court will change their minds on this issue to give gay and lesbian couples the recognition and protection their families deserve under the Constitution.

How Marriage Equality Supporters Beat The “Princess” Ad

By Chris Geidner, BuzzFeed

State-specific campaigns won marriage equality-related campaigns in four states this month. The wins, in part, came after a year-long, behind-the-scenes national research effort.

WASHINGTON — The surprise sweep for marriage equality efforts at the polls in 2012 came after a dramatic shift in the television ads their backers ran — a change that came about after a year-long research effort to crack the code of previously successful ads run by marriage equality opponents that focused on “gay marriage” being taught in schools.

Among the key changes: A shift away from talk of “rights” to a focus on committed relationships; a decision to address “values” directly as being learned at home; and an attempt to give voters “permission” to change their minds, according to elements of the research shared with BuzzFeed.

The research was “instrumental in helping us figure out our path,” said Zach Silk, who served as the campaign manager to approve Washington’s Referendum 74.

The research was sponsored by Third Way — a centrist Democratic think tank — that conducted an extended round of surveys beginning in September 2010 “aimed at answering a single question: how do we most effectively persuade people in the middle to support relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples, including marriage?

(more after the jump)

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How Gay Marriage Finally Won at the Polls

The inside strategy behind victory in Maryland and Maine.

By Nathaniel Frank, Slate

Four years ago, LGBT advocates were devastated by the voter approval of Proposition 8 in California, which reversed a state court ruling allowing same-sex marriage. In that fight, the political consultant Frank Schubert, who led the anti-gay forces there and in the four states that voted on marriage this week, created a deadly ad campaign that played on lingering fears that gay equality threatens kids. In his advertisement, a schoolgirl returns home and cheerfully announces what she learned in school—that a prince can marry a prince, and she can marry a princess! In 2009, Schubert used the identical playbook to win a ballot measure in Maine invalidating the legislature’s decision to let gays wed.

Just three years later, the people of Maine did an about face, and along with Maryland voted Tuesday to let gay couples marry. (We’ll update about Washington and Minnesota when results are in.) Until this election, every state that had held a popular vote on the question—32 in a row—had rejected same-sex marriage. Maine and Maryland not only ended the losing streak but may have turned the war, depriving defenders of straight-only marriage of their latest talking point: that the people don’t want gays to marry. (And let’s not forget that Wisconsin elected Tammy Baldwin, the nation’s first openly gay senator!)

How same-sex marriage ballot initiatives turned around is all about the long game. The gay rights movement succeeded using one of the most sophisticated issue campaign operations ever deployedand by making it stick with old-fashioned commitment, hard work, and face-to-face conversations.

(More after the jump)

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Thank Your Grandparents for Equality Surging in Polls

The director of Social Policy and Politics at the think tank Third Way examines trends in polling and finds that the youngest generation’s support doesn’t explain the entire shift.

This year might bring the first-ever statewide vote in favor of marriage for same-sex couples — and for that you have your grandmother to thank. Why? Because contrary to conventional wisdom, Americans born in the 1940s have been changing their minds on the marriage issue faster than nearly any other age group. And they are in good company.

Some marriage advocates have posited that the mammoth growth our country has seen in support for allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry has been primarily caused by younger, more accepting voters replacing older ones in the population. But new data released in our new report, The Big Shift, shows that this phenomenon only explains one quarter of the total movement since 2004, while 75% of the shift was caused by Americans of all ages — including your parents’ and grandparents’ generation — changing their minds.

By compiling data from 98 public surveys taken between 2004 and 2011, with a total of more than 128,000 responses, we were able to dig deeper into the question of exactly who has changed their position on marriage, and how quickly. The answers are stunning: support for marriage has risen at a rate of more than 2 points a year since the low point in 2004, gaining 16 points by 2011 — the most recent year for which we have numbers. Who moved the most quickly? Moderates, whose support went from 33% to 54% over that seven-year timeframe.

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What’s on the Ballot?

The Presidential & Congressional elections are not the only important votes on the November 2012 ballot. Several states will also ask voters to weigh in on key ballot initiatives that could have national implications. We’ve put together a guide to some of the most important initiatives and referenda below. We’ll update this cheat sheet after the election so that you can see how they fared with voters in their states!

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We’re at a tipping point with upcoming battles for marriage equality in the states, in Congress, and in the courts, and a decisive factor will be the depth of support among moderates and Independents for allowing gay couples to marry. 
Third Way has created our bipartisan Commitment Campaign to help policymakers and advocates persuade middle America to strongly support marriage for gay couples. Our groundbreaking research on how Americans in the middle view this issue has shown that framing marriage in terms of commitment, not rights, works far better than traditional approaches.
The purpose of the Commitment Campaign is to speed up America’s journey towards equality by developing and disseminating messages, strategies, and policies that help policymakers, advocacy groups, the media, and other influencers most effectively win support from the middle on marriage for gay couples. Our hope is that when the landmark cases reach the Supreme Court, both the judges and our country will be ready for them.
Visit the Commitment Campaign to view our work, including reports, educational resources, and infographics that illustrate the progress being made in this effort.

We’re at a tipping point with upcoming battles for marriage equality in the states, in Congress, and in the courts, and a decisive factor will be the depth of support among moderates and Independents for allowing gay couples to marry. 

Third Way has created our bipartisan Commitment Campaign to help policymakers and advocates persuade middle America to strongly support marriage for gay couples. Our groundbreaking research on how Americans in the middle view this issue has shown that framing marriage in terms of commitment, not rights, works far better than traditional approaches.

The purpose of the Commitment Campaign is to speed up America’s journey towards equality by developing and disseminating messages, strategies, and policies that help policymakers, advocacy groups, the media, and other influencers most effectively win support from the middle on marriage for gay couples. Our hope is that when the landmark cases reach the Supreme Court, both the judges and our country will be ready for them.

Visit the Commitment Campaign to view our work, including reports, educational resources, and infographics that illustrate the progress being made in this effort.