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The GOP and Social Issues: Confronting the Gay Marriage Question
Pajamas Media ^ | 02/06/2014 | Andrew McCarthy

Posted on 02/06/2014 7:20:05 AM PST by SeekAndFind

Here at Ordered Liberty, I weighed in a few days back on the discussion Roger Simon and Bryan Preston were having about whether the Republican Party should de-emphasize social issues. Some other points are worth making.

The first is that not all “social issues” are created equal.

I don’t think either Roger or Bryan suggested otherwise. To recap how we got here, while Roger’s headline referred generally to “social conservatives” (“How Social Conservatives Are Saving Liberalism”), his post homed in on gay marriage. In rebuttal, Bryan did not delve deeply into the substance of gay marriage; instead, he broadened the debate to consider how a conservative retreat on gay marriage would fit into a pattern of surrender on social issues across the board. It is those issues that inspired the demographic known as “social conservatives” to, as Bryan says, “get into politics in the first place.” Thus, he contends, de-emphasizing them would cause social conservatives to disengage from politics. I agree. As argued in my post, the GOP cannot win elections with major defections from this critical component of its base.

Yet, it confuses matters to speak of “social issues” as one indiscriminate bunch, and to imply that each should be handled the same “no compromise” way. Just as every skirmish in the culture war is not equally significant, different social issues are of varying importance.

Abortion, for example, is the great civil rights issue of our time; marijuana legalization (also discussed in Roger’s critique of social conservatives) is not nearly as consequential, regardless of how one comes out on it.

Gun rights, free speech, and religious liberty are explicitly protected by the federal Constitution; their erosion thus raises grave concerns about the vitality of all constitutional guarantees and about the future of constitutional governance itself. To the contrary, because abortion and marriage are not addressed by the Constitution, the assumption by the federal courts or Congress of the power to regulate them imperils state sovereignty — absent the guarantee of which the states would not have ratified the Constitution. And the fact that an issue is a matter of states’ rights implies that different states may have different solutions.

Bryan is wise to focus on the effects of an across-the-board retreat on social issues. Still, each different issue needs to be taken on its own merits. The fact that I’d be unwilling to compromise on life does not mean I’m closed-minded on marriage. The fact that I would fight hard to protect the Second Amendment does not mean I think all gun restrictions are unworthy; it means I think the core of any express constitutional protection may only be narrowed by constitutional amendment, lest all constitutional protections be imperiled.

Roger’s focus was on gay (or “same-sex”) marriage, so let’s stick with that. He is certainly right that young people, as a class, are much more sympathetic to it than previous generations. That is the main reason polling of American attitudes on gay marriage has swung, in less than 20 years, from overwhelming opposition to clear support. In the Left’s “us versus them” approach to political issues (the main thrust of my previous post), “us” undoubtedly lines up on the pro side of same-sex marriage — notwithstanding that the anti side includes two notable Democratic constituencies: black Americans and Muslims (homosexuality being regarded as a capital offense under Islamic law). In just the last six years, Latinos, another Democrat-leaning constituency, have swung from opposing gay marriage to favoring it, driven by 18-to-29-year-olds.

Roger observes that young people now equate opposition to gay marriage with bigotry, which so offends them that he fears “the whole house of cards goes down” — i.e., if pressured by social conservatives to maintain their opposition, Republicans will lose young voters over this single issue, even though their economic self-interest and libertarian streak should cause young adults to reject the Democrats’ extreme statism.

As I countered in the last post, even if Roger is right about that (which he may be), Republicans considering a course reversal would still have to weigh any potential gains among young voters against the effect of alienating an essential part of their base.

I suspect the result would be a sizable net loss, especially in midterm elections. (Young voters participate in presidential elections at much higher rates than in midterms.) Nevertheless, it is worth asking whether social conservative opposition to gay marriage is a “no compromise” stance or one on which accommodations can tolerably be made.

Personally, I cannot get whipped up over gay marriage. I strenuously oppose the imposition of the Left’s agenda, including its radical gay rights subpart, on our society. But I distinguish the marriage question from the broader agenda, even though I know gay activists do not — a problem I will get to in due course. I know plenty of gay people, and I don’t think most of them define themselves by their sexuality any more than the rest of us do. I don’t believe most of them are driven by an overarching political agenda. They are just trying to go about their lives. That makes me sympathetic, though it does not persuade me to become a supporter of gay marriage. Yet, my objections are academic, not impassioned. I just don’t care that much about it.

Marriage is an institution rooted in the complementarity of the sexes, the natural procreative capacity of husband and wife, and the benefits of raising children in this natural family unit. To my mind, then, to speak of “gay marriage” and to juxtapose it with “traditional marriage” is to make a category error. Indeed, I think conservatives opposed to gay marriage are steadily losing in the court of public opinion because, on this as on many issues, they failed to take heed of the language in which the debate was framed. Speaking of “traditional marriage” implies that there are non-traditional arrangements that sensibly qualify as marriage despite being foreign to what marriage is. The political argument, moreover, assumes that marriage is something for government to define — as opposed to being a social institution that predates government, and in which government’s involvement ought to be limited to prescribing the legal privileges attendant to marriages society accepts.

Importantly, I don’t see this reasoning as an insult to or bigotry against gay people — I certainly don’t mean it that way. It is just a fact of life. I am not insulted, nor do I feel discriminated against, by the facts that my wife and I would be ineligible for a same-sex union, that I would not be permitted to play in the women’s pro-basketball league even if I were good enough, or that I am deemed unfit to be, say, Polish American of the Year.

By telling me I lack the basic qualifications, society is not undermining my dignity as a human being or the worthiness of my most intimate relationship.

All that said, though, if the people of a state choose to place gay couples in committed, monogamous relationships on an equal legal footing (meaning: analogous legal privileges) as married couples, that is fine by me. For the reasons explained above, such a legally sanctioned arrangement would not seem like a marriage to me, but I don’t feel strongly enough about it to object.

I also believe in our form of democracy. As a matter of law, marriage is a matter fit for state regulation; if the majority of a state voted to recognize monogamous, committed same-sex relationships as a marriage, I don’t see how any of my fundamental rights would be threatened, so I would accept the law just like I accept all legitimately enacted laws with which I disagree. I also believe in federalism: in 50 different states there would be a variety of outcomes: some states would endorse gay marriage, some would preserve marriage as we’ve always known it, virtually all would approve some form of domestic partnership, and everyone would be able to gravitate to places hospitable to their preferences and morality. (If abortion had been handled that way, rather than by the statist, undemocratic imposition of a one-size-fits-all federal dictate, our debates over “social issues” would be much less heated, the confirmation process for federal judges would be far less politicized, and “social conservatives” would probably never have risen up as a national political force.)

Moreover, the fact that marriage and the traditional family constitute the optimal societal building block does not mean other kinds of family arrangements cannot work. We damn well better hope they can. As the Center for Equal Opportunity’s Roger Clegg points out, the latest appalling data indicate that over 40 percent of all births in the United States are now out-of-wedlock. Among blacks and native Americans (American Indians and Alaskans), the figures are a mindboggling 72 and 67 percent, respectively. For Hispanics, it is 54 percent; for whites, nearly 30 percent; and for Asians/Pacific Islanders, 17 percent.

Regardless of my intellectual misgivings about gay marriage, it is not rational to obsess over a small number of people who want state validation for loving relationships that promote stability when we are in the midst of unprecedented social instability — and all the disorder that comes with it.

What about the slippery slope to polygamy, etc. (a question made more relevant by Bryan’s valid point about never-ending surrenders)? I am not overly concerned about it as long as gay marriage is enacted politically rather than imposed by courts purporting to discover constitutional rationales.

Politics is about social tranquility. In a political process, it is permissible to compromise, to draw lines that the people want drawn for cultural and other practical reasons. Political solutions do not require today’s accommodation to lead to the next logical accommodation. In this way, politics is saliently different from jurisprudence. Courts construing legal provisions must, in the absence of guidance by the lawmakers, search for limiting principles. Unlike lawmakers, they are not limited by “the art of the possible”; they are bound to go where law and logic take them. That is a big part of why free people should limit the areas of life subject to control by politically unaccountable judges. At any rate, if gay marriage were lawfully enacted by referendum or legislation, it should be with the caveat that courts have no jurisdiction to expand it.

Furthermore, just as marriage is rooted in human nature, I also believe homosexuality is a natural human condition, albeit one that applies to an extremely small percentage of people. Of that small population, some markedly smaller percentage desires committed, monogamous relationships analogous to marriage. Their number is too negligible to threaten the institution of marriage, the family, and religious liberty. Or at least it should be if all we are talking about is according them marital status and its legal privileges (for tax, inheritance and similar purposes).

Here, we get to the crux of the matter. My reservations aside, I would be completely indifferent to gay marriage if it were just about a few gay people trying to pursue happiness. Alas, it is not. It is the leading edge of a political agenda — a grossly intolerant agenda masquerading as the avatar of tolerance.

The Left and its gay activists do not want to “coexist.”

They won’t take tolerance or acceptance for an answer. They demand approval and endorsement. They seek to deracinate Western culture from its Judeo-Christian fundament by slandering it as hate-based discrimination. I don’t understand why we abide such arrogance. I don’t expect my views to win everyone’s approval, just their tolerance. No one has a right to more than that, and I fail to see why gay people should not be content with it./p>

Given the metastasis of out-of-wedlock births, responsible adoption agencies are more essential than ever. Yet Catholic Charities, which has been extraordinary in filling this need, is being forced to shutter its affiliates in various states because, consistent with Catholic doctrine, it will not arrange adoptions for same-sex couples. Similarly, providers of other services (wedding photographers, catering halls, realtors, and the like) who object to gay marriage on religious grounds are being coerced to serve same-sex couples or face the prospect of being sued and shut down.

This ought to be unacceptable. There are adoption agencies and plenty of service providers who would be not just willing but anxious to have business from gay people. Respecting the right of religious believers not to abet arrangements they sincerely believe to be sinful would no more harm gay people than reluctantly accepting a state’s decision to recognize gay marriage would harm these religious believers. Gay activists demand respect, but they will not reciprocate.

To be sure, religious believers tend to object to gay marriage (but to harbor fewer reservations about “domestic partnership” arrangements that grant same sex couples legal privileges on a par with marriage). Yet, though there are exceptions and extremes, I believe they would accept — not approve but accept – gay marriage if: (a) it were legitimately adopted by popular vote or the state legislative process, and (b) its enactment explicitly recognized the right of religious objectors to refrain from violating their beliefs.

In my opinion, young voters — not all of them or perhaps even most of them, but a fair amount of them — could be persuaded that this is a reasonable compromise. More to the point, they could be persuaded that the counter-cultural demands of gay activists are an unreasonable restriction on freedom of conscience. I’m not sure whether Roger or Bryan would agree. Nor do I know how representative my position is of what conservatives generally, or social conservatives in particular, think.



TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: gaymarriage; gop; homosexuality; socialissues

1 posted on 02/06/2014 7:20:05 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

2 posted on 02/06/2014 7:21:32 AM PST by 2ndDivisionVet (Jealousy is when you count someone else's blessings instead of your own.)
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To: SeekAndFind
whether the Republican Party should de-emphasize social issues.

Don't put them in the party platform if you really don't intend to stand by them and damn sure don't try to force an RNC committeeman for speaking on them as part of a discussion on the party platform.
3 posted on 02/06/2014 7:24:39 AM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: cripplecreek

Don’t put them in the party platform if you really don’t intend to stand by them and damn sure don’t try to force an RNC committeeman (TO RESIGN) for speaking on them as part of a discussion on the party platform.


4 posted on 02/06/2014 7:25:47 AM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Maybe the government should get out of the marriage business.
Why did we ever fall for government defining marriage in the first place ?

When the government defined divorce , the divorce rate sky rocketed

Sorry not maybe get out, just get out period.


5 posted on 02/06/2014 7:26:36 AM PST by svcw (Not 'hope and change' but 'dopes in chains')
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To: SeekAndFind

Very easy answer that I give to the question of gay marriage:

Masha Gessen, Lesbian activist: “It’s a no-brainer that (homosexual activists) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. “

Gay marriage is not about extending marriage to gays, it’s about destroying marriage for heterosexuals.


6 posted on 02/06/2014 7:30:15 AM PST by struggle
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To: SeekAndFind
I believe they would accept — not approve but accept – gay marriage if: (a) it were legitimately adopted by popular vote or the state legislative process, and (b) its enactment explicitly recognized the right of religious objectors to refrain from violating their beliefs.

Wrong. Marriage is a God-ordained union between one man and one woman. No state legislature can change God's word. No compromise. EVER.

7 posted on 02/06/2014 7:31:10 AM PST by Colonel_Flagg (Some people meet their heroes. I raised mine. Go Army.)
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To: Colonel_Flagg

We also need to understand that this is just one more area where conservatives are fighting against a republican party who talks out of both sides of their mouth.

An interesting (and short) interview with RNC committeeman Dave Agema about the push to force his resignation over gay marriage. They’re really angry that he told the truth about the party platform being a thin coat of paint to suck in voters but the party has no intent to stand by it.

http://www.afa.net/Radio/show.aspx?id=2147490466&tab=video&video=2147543067


8 posted on 02/06/2014 7:38:45 AM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: svcw
Maybe the government should get out of the marriage business

I am fine with government simply creating a statutory contract that contains a certain set of rights among two people -- any two people -- so that you can have someone in your life to make decisions like taking you off life support or getting your property if you don't have a will, etc.

But it will have nothing to do with "marriage". Marriage will be completely, 100% defined by your church.

9 posted on 02/06/2014 7:54:29 AM PST by Opinionated Blowhard ("When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.")
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To: cripplecreek

You’re quite right. When you talk of ‘talking out of both sides of their mouth’ in reference to the Republican Party, all kinds of phrases spring to mind, which I shan’t repeat since I’d like to keep posting.


10 posted on 02/06/2014 8:00:44 AM PST by Colonel_Flagg (Some people meet their heroes. I raised mine. Go Army.)
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To: Colonel_Flagg

Another thing Agema points out is that the GOP has a very unfortunate run for cover and offer up a sacrifice reflex when it comes to “controversial” issues. The democrats know it and use it with great effectiveness.


11 posted on 02/06/2014 8:06:43 AM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: svcw
When the government defined divorce , the divorce rate sky rocketed

Sorry, but that causal reference you implied is just plain illogical.
12 posted on 02/06/2014 8:11:15 AM PST by SoConPubbie (Mitt and Obama: They're the same poison, just a different potency)
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To: svcw
Sorry not maybe get out, just get out period.

Sorry, Christians don't surrender, especially on moral issues.

I'm surprised at this post from you svcw.

The founders were very clear on this issue: that this form of government they gave us was ONLY meant for a Christian nation.

Furthermore, by caving on this issue, the other side, the Perverts, will only be emboldened. They will push for more.

Surrender is not an option, and the approach you are suggesting, is nothing short of surrendering.
13 posted on 02/06/2014 8:14:18 AM PST by SoConPubbie (Mitt and Obama: They're the same poison, just a different potency)
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To: SeekAndFind

“He is certainly right that young people, as a class, are much more sympathetic to it than previous generations. “

I realize this, as well. But we are NOT addressing the reason why, and THAT is important. The government, which SHOULD be neutral, has gotten into this by being pro-gay for a couple decades now, and it has been being taught in K-12 grades EVERYWHERE. When it is depicted as a norm, for youngsters growing up, what do you think is going to happen as they become adults? Teaching children in school from K and on changes their values, regardless of the values taught at home. They still might claim publicly to their parents and close relatives that they are against it when that is what the rest of them believe, but the softening of that position has already taken place in their minds. As a former school nurse, I can vouch that these kids ARE being brainwashed. And, not only that, but our DoE is much more concerned that they learn about this than being able to read and write.


14 posted on 02/06/2014 8:56:27 AM PST by Shery (in APO Land)
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To: svcw

Oneplus website writes:-”By the 1730s public opinion was beginning to turn against the clandestine marriage system with complaints in the London newspapers about the fraudulent seduction of heirs and heiresses.

In 1753 Lord Harwicke’s Marriage Act, “for the better preventing of clandestine marriages”, stipulated that no marriage other than one performed by an ordained Anglican clergyman in the premises of the Church of England after either thrice-called banns or purchase of a license from bishop or one of his surrogates was valid.

“In the case of both banns and license, at least one party had to be resident for at least three weeks in the parish where the marriage was to be celebrated. Parental consent for those under 21 was strictly enforced.

Only the Quakers and Jews managed to have their marriage rites exempted. There were strong objections to the Act – “proclamations of banns and publick marriages are against the nature and genius of our people” – wrote the Gentleman’s Magazine.”


15 posted on 02/06/2014 9:08:25 AM PST by managusta (The first sign of maturity is the discovery that the volume knob also turns to the left.)
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To: Opinionated Blowhard

Agreed


16 posted on 02/06/2014 10:39:04 AM PST by svcw (Not 'hope and change' but 'dopes in chains')
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To: SoConPubbie

Really? The divorce rate was very low, until government (primarily at the state lever) changed the definition to no fault and bingo the rate went up.


17 posted on 02/06/2014 10:42:34 AM PST by svcw (Not 'hope and change' but 'dopes in chains')
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To: SoConPubbie

I have know idea what you are talking about. In the founders time marriage was in the church, not the government.
Having marriage outside the government is not a surrender, it is returning to how it used to be.
To have a government license for a spiritual act is what is ridiculous.
The church should be in charge of marriage not the government.


18 posted on 02/06/2014 10:46:10 AM PST by svcw (Not 'hope and change' but 'dopes in chains')
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To: SoConPubbie

I am fascinated that you apparently want the federal government telling us what marriage and divorce are.
Simply, put I do not.


19 posted on 02/06/2014 10:50:54 AM PST by svcw (Not 'hope and change' but 'dopes in chains')
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To: svcw


Simply put, I do.

I want a simple declaration concerning Marriage, just like I want a simple declaration protecting Human Life from the moment of conception, in the Constitution. Period.

One man, one woman.

I want a simple declaration concerning marriage in the Constitution just like there is for the 2nd Amendment.

Is that too much to ask?

You have given up and by giving up you are emboldening the enemies of this democratic republican form of government.

By taking away the moral structure of the law you take away the moral foundation of our culture.

Either fight or go sit on the side of the road.
20 posted on 02/06/2014 11:29:39 AM PST by SoConPubbie (Mitt and Obama: They're the same poison, just a different potency)
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To: svcw
I am fascinated that you apparently want the federal government telling us what marriage and divorce are.
Simply, put I do not.


Simply put, I do.

I want a simple declaration concerning Marriage, just like I want a simple declaration protecting Human Life from the moment of conception, in the Constitution. Period.

One man, one woman.

I want a simple declaration concerning marriage in the Constitution just like there is for the 2nd Amendment.

Is that too much to ask?

You have given up and by giving up you are emboldening the enemies of this democratic republican form of government.

By taking away the moral structure of the law you take away the moral foundation of our culture.

Either fight or go sit on the side of the road.
21 posted on 02/06/2014 11:30:08 AM PST by SoConPubbie (Mitt and Obama: They're the same poison, just a different potency)
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To: svcw
Why did we ever fall for government defining marriage in the first place ?

Property rights for the wife.

Divorce exploded after the idea of "No Fault Divorce" was championed by none other than Ronald Reagan.

22 posted on 02/06/2014 11:30:46 AM PST by itsahoot (It is not so much that history repeats, but that human nature does not change.)
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To: svcw
I have know idea what you are talking about. In the founders time marriage was in the church, not the government.

They didn't have income tax then either and property belonged to those that could defend it.

23 posted on 02/06/2014 11:45:52 AM PST by itsahoot (It is not so much that history repeats, but that human nature does not change.)
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To: SoConPubbie

I have given up nothing but government intrusion.
I have never wanted the government defining spiritual things, sorry that you do.


24 posted on 02/06/2014 1:32:12 PM PST by svcw (Not 'hope and change' but 'dopes in chains')
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bkmk


25 posted on 02/06/2014 1:40:57 PM PST by AllAmericanGirl44
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