HRC Blog

Renewed Faith

Post submitted by Joyce Wu, HRC communications intern

The past decade has seen a marked change in how religious Americans view LGBT issues. And HRC has been there helping to guide the conversation.

As Sharon Groves, the director of HRC’s Religion and Faith Program, explains in an article published today on The Atlantic:

“After the 2004 elections, the story was that we were losing value voters. Family values were defined, largely, as anti-LGBT. The people making the case for the family values side were religious leaders, and we as a movement were responding with advocates and lawyers.”

In recent years, however, LGBT issues have become points of contention within faith communities, rather than between faith communities and LGBT advocates. The numbers say it all: in 2004, 36 percent of Catholics and 34 percent of mainline Protestants supported marriage equality. Today, those numbers have increased to 57 and 55 percent, respectively.

Last weekend, Groves and Candace Gingrich-Jones, associate director of HRC’s Youth and Campus Outreach Program, represented HRC at the fourth Wild Goose Festival, an annual event in North Carolina that is centered on social justice and spirituality as well as music and art. In another demonstration of how much religious Americans’ attitudes towards LGBT issues have changed recently, the HRC’s booth was received warmly. Attendees came to the booth throughout the day to express to Groves and Gingrich-Jones how happy they were that HRC was at the festival.

And by working with clergy and faith leaders in key marriage states, including Illinois, North Carolina, Oregon, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Washington, HRC’s Religion and Faith program has brought powerful, positive messages from faith leaders into the national conversation paving the way for marriage equality.

“People have been told for so many years if you're a gay person you basically don't belong in the religious community,” Groves told The Atlantic. But, as she can attest, that idea is on its way out.

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