Why Conservatives Should Abandon the Gay Marriage “Issue”
At the risk of invoking hate mail from either pole of this debate, I’m calling for Conservatives to abandon ship on the “issue” of gay marriage. It’s time we – politically speaking – build a bridge and get over it.
Pause for the collective gasp from the audience…
Here’s the “issue:” Fighting over gay marriage is a lose-lose scenario politically. While standing firm that marriage is between a man and a woman might engender some support among some minority groups (African-Americans and Hispanics, for example) and may invigorate some portion of the “base”, the stance ultimately gives the Left cannon fodder for the continued claim that the GOP is the party of hate, misogyny, homophobia and exclusion. (If you don’t get what I’m saying, read the really lousy rhetorical arguments posed by one Christian in this dreadful argument in support of gay marriage…)
The reality of gay marriage is that it isn’t any of the government’s damn business in the first place who you choose to marry.
While I believe we live in a Center-Right culture based on the Judeo-Christian values, I also believe that a government that can regulate if two men or two women can marry can also regulate a lot of other things that heterosexual people won’t be so happy about.
My faith tradition supports the concept of marriage as a Union blessed by God that exists between a man and a woman. My interpretation of Scripture supports that. If my church were to choose to start performing same-sex marriages, I might have an issue to deal with personally.
If the government allows two committed, loving people to openly pledge themselves to a life together based on the underlying precepts of marriage, that is in no way an affront to what I believe, nor does it cheapen my own marriage, consecrated by a minister in the sight of God.
Let me explain a different way – we’re dealing with two concepts of marriage here: the spiritual, and the secular. The issue of gay marriage should be debated in the spiritual community, and the different religious sects, creeds and denominations can choose how they feel, believe or interpret the Word of God (or teachings of their particular Deity, I suppose). The secular issue – should states (or the federal government) allow same-sex marriage – is one that is a distraction from the true role of government.
Barrack Obama, for once, is right – even if he’s right for the wrong reasons. As a would-be political analyst, I think the President made a politically-calculated move. I don’t believe his stance on gay marriage is any different today than it has ever been, but I believe the President decided it was in his best political interest to stake his claim as a supporter of gay marriage – and states’ rights.
Even so, he’s absolutely right that it’s time that the rights and benefits afforded to “traditional” married couples be extended to homosexual couples who choose to make the same commitment and covenant. Medical benefits, property rights, insurance issues, etc., are a no-brainer here.
Continuing to rage against the desire of people to live inside the commitment of a marriage is not only a gross misappropriation of the role of government (remember, Conservatives believe first and foremost in a limited government), it is – more importantly – politically foolish. Those within the Conservative movement who rally behind social causes aren’t going to vote for a Liberal anyway, so there is little to lose and not much to gain from clinging to this issue as a battle standard.
In fact, let me say this: social issues, in general, need to play a distant role compared to the major issues of the day – namely the economy, our national defense, and the proper role of government.
If a candidate for office doesn’t get it right on issues of a fiscal or defense nature, it doesn’t matter that he is pro-life or not. Likewise, if a candidate is great on the economy and national security, but is a little squeamish about gay marriage, it’s time to say “two out of three ain’t bad.”
The extremism that comes from backing or rejecting candidates on social issues is damaging to the overal scope of what a well-run government can and should do in the first place. When I was starting my career, I worked at a Christian talk radio station. A number of the hosts and listeners clearly based their voting decisions primarily on the issues of abortion or gay marriage. While those are certainly very big, very important, and very controversial issues, they pale in comparison to the importance of maintaining a strong fiscal policy and national security posture.
We have to keep first things first – we can continue to have the differences inherent in the spiritual aspect of the gay marriage debate, but it’s time for Conservatives to recognize that homosexual voters are still voters, too.
This isn’t about Adam & Eve vs. Adam & Steve, it’s about good politics, good policy, and ultimately, good government.