|By Jesse Merkel|
The idea of Republicans for gay marriage might seem rather ridiculous, but the truth is that supporting gay marriage could put the GOP back into their rightful place as the champions of civil rights. It was the Republican Party that pushed the end to slavery, fought to enforce equal rights in the South before Jim Crow, championed women’s suffrage and wrote the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
A large number of Republicans and conservatives are split. As a party largely attached to the religious right, many in the GOP have been reluctant to recognize same sex unions, because of the obvious religious implications. However, as the champions of the individual, conservatives of all stripes should remember that as much as they want people to stay out of their lives, there are many people who feel the same way about marriage.
In fact, a majority of the country now supports it. According to CBS, 51% of the country now supports gay marriage. Gay marriage was a winning argument this past election day. With victories in Maine and Maryland, it marked the first time at the ballot box, voters approved of gay marriage.
Gay marriage is not abortion. No life is being taken, and no one is being harmed. While it could be argued that abortion has contributed to the devaluing of human life and harmful to society, it could also be argued that gay marriage could be beneficial in more ways that one.
While it seems as though the institution of marriage is always under attack, Republicans and conservatives should be happy these days that anyone wants to get hitched! Studies have shown that married people live longer and lead happier lines on average.
There are also many gay couples out there that would love to be able to adopt a child if given the opportunity. A stable, loving home is the best thing to encourage a child’s development. There are millions of children that would love just to have a home to call their own. The more willing parents there are, the better. Marriage can reduce child poverty dramatically and increase the likelihood of a child wanting to go to college.
Many social and religious conservatives may vote against the subject of gay marriage because of their own religious beliefs. No matter what kind of personal beliefs conservative individuals and families may have, it’s important to remember that when personal liberty thrives, the entire nation thrives. A gay couple getting married down the street will not lead to the closing of churches across town.
And the GOP will have allies. Libertarians are all on board with gay marriage, and there are many moderates who see the issue as no big deal. There are several prominent Republicans that are leading the charge that everyone should have the right to get married.
Former GOP Chairman Ken Mehlman, who came out after his term as chairman had ended, has formed a new group called Project Right Side. This group is targeted at expanding support for gay marriage with Republicans and other conservatives. Believing (correctly, I might add) that conservatives succeed when they attract new supporters to timeless ideas, Mehlman believes that marriage equality could be a tremendous winner for the Republican Party.
I had an opportunity to speak with Jimmy LaSalvia, co-founder and executive director of GOProud, the nations leading gay conservative political action group. I asked him for his views on this subject last week during a brief discussion over the phone:
“I personally am a pro-life social conservative, and I always think that we should always apply conservative values and principles to the issues of the day, and that’s why I support same-sex marriage, because I know that marriage and monogamous relationships are better for people. The whole stereotype of the gay community is being promiscuous, and reckless. That is something that as a social conservative I don’t want for gay people. I want gay people to settle down. I think too often times conservatives fail to take principles and apply to issues of the day. They’re too caught up in sticking to a policy position, even when it doesn’t jive with their principles.”
LaSalvia also thought it was interesting to note that he is regularly invited to speak at universities across the country by college Republican groups, but never by college gay groups.
Conservatives like LaSalvia and Brian Carroll (a.k.a: the GayPatriot) who work with GOProud believe that the issue should be fought for by the states. As a tenth amendment champion, it makes sense. The Defense of Marriage Act is not only a non-starter, but it’s also an example of the federal government overstepping its bounds that we as conservatives are supposed to be opposed to.
Fighting yesterday’s battles and banging ones head against the walls will not do anyone any good when the only result will be a bloody nose. It makes even less sense when fighting them makes little sense to conservatism.
Other conservatives, such as former Solicitor General Ted Olson have stated that championing gay marriage is the right and conservative thing to do. Even former Vice President Dick Cheney has come out in support of gay marriage. One can support an individuals’ right to drink, smoke, and own guns. Why not marriage?
We as conservatives showed a great amount of outrage when President Obama and his cabinet attempted to force Catholic institutions to provide contraception coverage even though it was against their wishes. We as conservatives should not try to force our beliefs on anyone else, especially when the actions we are trying to prevent will not cause us or the country any harm.
Of course, the left will accuse the Republicans of being bandwagon jumpers, and there will be some on the right who will cry foul. However, the Republican Party can be on the right side of history again, as it has been more often than it has not. We must not let a gloating left, a condescending media and a few stalwarts hold us back from reclaiming our mantle.
Republicans should support gay marriage because we support the individual. If we support same-sex unions, it will only further reinforce the notion that we do not need to break people off into groups and marginalize them, the way the left has done for three decades.
Drunk driving harms people. Criminals harm people. The federal government overstepping it’s boundaries harms people too. We as conservatives want to allow our fellow citizens as much freedom as humanly possible. To ask anything less of ourselves is to turn in our conservative decoder rings and membership cards.
“I'm a supporter of gay rights. And not a closet supporter either. From the time I was a kid, I have never been able to understand attacks upon the gay community. There are so many qualities that make up a human being ... by the time I get through with all the things that I really admire about people, what they do with their private parts is probably so low on the list that it is irrelevant.”
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