During The Awakening’s panel on “Messaging and Mobilizing a New General of World Changers,” the fear of swelling youth support for marriage equality laws was widespread. Religious Right activists were particularly worried about the results of a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll that found that not only did 53 percent of Americans favor marriage equality, but that support was even stronger among younger Americans: “In an ABC/Post poll five and a half years ago, for example, under-30s were the sole age group to give majority support to gay marriage, at 57 percent. Today it’s 68 percent in that group – but also 65 percent among people in their 30s, up a remarkable 23 points from the 2005 level; and 52 percent among those in their 40s, up 17 points.”
While the early morning panel was composed of young conservative leaders and Liberty University students, the audience was largely older and a number of questioners expressed fear over rising support for marriage equality among youth. Thomas Hall, a close aide to Lou Engle and a board member of the dominionist Oak Initiative, lamented the youth energy and support for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and Ryan Sorba admitted that even conservative students are not rallying behind the opposition to marriage equality.
William Estrada, a leader of the homeschoolers group Generation Joshua and the Home School Legal Defense Association, argued that conservative youth are organizing. Estrada mentioned a homeschoolers group in Hawaii, the Guardians of Liberty, who he said singlehandedly convinced former Governor Linda Lingle to veto a civil unions law. “We’re seeing young people standing up for the cause of traditional marriage,” Estrada said. What he failed to mention was that just a few months later, newly elected governor Neil Abercrombie signed the civil unions bill into law with little public outcry.
Marriage equality still faces immense political hurdles, with just five states and the District of Columbia adopting equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians, but the discouragement over the lack of anti-gay fervor among youth at The Awakening should not be taken as a sign that Religious Right activists have any intention of giving up. If their “Religious Liberty and the LGBT Agenda” panel demonstrated anything, it’s that the Religious Right is unleashing even more venomous and blistering attacks against gays and lesbians. That is, when they aren’t denying the existence of gay people.
Dejected, angered, and confused, last week’s poll by the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow shows the increasing desperation and panic of the Religious Right: