As a bill legalizing gay marriage is introduced in the MN legislature, I've been reflecting on where the GOP went so horribly wrong with the marriage amendment and how we ended up here. Now that big name Republicans are moving to embrace gay marriage, it is time for the GOP to asses what we believe in and why.
First, a mea culpa. I'm not casting stones at others here. I supported the marriage amendment being placed on the ballot, I voted for it, and as a candidate in 2010 I signed the Minnesota Family Council's pledge to protect marriage. I was part and parcel to the mistake in judgement we made, and I take my share of the blame.
So how did we come from nearly banning gay marriage 5 months ago (the amendment only lost by 12,000 votes statewide, less than 3%) to legalizing gay marriage? Quite simply, we forgot our core principles and tried to legislate morality. We tried to use the vehicle of government to enforce a belief that is not in keeping with our small government foundation.
Marriage is simply not an issue that the government should be involved in regulating. Libertarians were right on this issue long ago, but I refused to listen because the idea of gay marriage is contrary to my principles. Along with many other conservatives, I tend to get hung up on the word 'marriage' in gay marriage because to me, marriage is between my, my wife and God. I didn't take an oath before government to love and cherish my wife, I took an oath before God. And that is entirely as it should be; if I fail in my promise to my wife, it will be God that judges me, not government. Government regulation of marriage violates the larger principle of limited government that is so important that I rank it as a core principle.
But unlike Sen Peterson and now Pat Anderson, I still don't think gay
marriage is right, or that conservatives need to support it in order to
connect with younger voters. There is an enormous difference between understanding that government should not be involved in defining marriage, and condoning gay marriage itself. And I will never agree with those on the libertarian right who say I should set aside my beliefs and convictions for political expediency, that opposing gay marriage is hurting the party politically, so I should come out (pardon the pun) in support of it.
Gay marriage is a moral issue, not a political one, as my libertarians friends have reminded me for the past few years. But just because I have seen the light and realized that I can't honestly oppose gay marriage in the political arena, doesn't mean that I can't take a moral position against gay marriage outside the political arena.
This may seem like hypocrisy; how can you oppose something but not want to ban it? Well, I don't smoke, never have, and consider it to be a pretty nasty habit. But I opposed the statewide ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. Why? Because the state government has no business telling businesses how to run their business.
In that same vein, I can oppose gay marriage while at the same time realizing that trying to get government to ban it is inconsistent with my belief that limited government is the best government.