In light of the Supreme Court’s choice to not take up gay marriage and letting a lower court’s decision stand this has brought gay marriage back to the forefront of the news….and I was willing to say it was a blip in the news cycle and wouldn’t have to say something on this topic (again) …But then the idiot in chief had to say it’s a Constitutional right. (I think we would all love to read this version of the Constitution Obama has, as it bears no resemblance to any version I’ve ever seen).
This is bad for conservatives for two reasons. The first is that “conservatives” do a terrible job of handling this topic. The second is that almost no one in power is advocating the correct solution.
So let’s first deal with how conservatives are screwing up on how to deal with this. Well first I should say that it is really only conservatives with a microphone (and then it’s only the idiotic social conservatives, who are really more liberal in their policies than anything– from now on let’s call them Progressives for Jesus). Why are they screwing this up? Because they are fighting not just an impossible battle but one that can never be won. Let’s ignore that the majority of the nation has no problem with gay marriage. Let’s look at the fact that 61% of young conservatives have no problem with gay marriage. This is and always been a generational issue, not one of right versus left. Look even among liberals and you find that the older ones are less in favor than the younger ones. So making this an issue is only pushing away those younger voters that we need for a cause that is impossible to win. Let me state that again: impossible. The older generations will die and this issue will go the way of the buggy whip and churning your own butter.
But it’s not only stupid because of that. It’s stupid in the way some are handling this. Wannabe food czar Mike “I can’t control what I shove in my face so we need laws about what you can put in yours” Huckabee says he will leave the GOP if we don’t take up the cause of defending traditional marriage (never has there been a better argument for gay marriage, get the big government loving slobs out of the GOP).
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out Mike. But then we also have Ted Cruz (demagogue, TX) saying he will introduce an amendment to defend marriage. Now despite being all talk and but no substance (the Obama of the right) he doesn’t seem to have mastered that most basic feature of conservatism: an actual understanding of math. The odds of Teddy getting the needed two-thirds of the Senate (when we know we’ll be very lucky to get half plus one in this election) makes the odds of it getting out roughly somewhat less likely than my winning both the Megamillions and Powerball this week. The odds of then getting two-thirds in the House even less likely. And the odds that you’ll get 38 states to all ratify such an Amendment is less than zero. Don Quixote would tell Teddy to give up in the face of these odds.
All intelligent conservatives, even fairly socially conservative ones, know that this issue, in the words of Brit Hume, “is now politically dead.”
But this is just dumb for other reasons. Frankly having government define what marriage is the most non-conservative thing you could possibly ever do. To define marriage at any level, but especially at the Constitutional level would be the death of religious liberty. We have seen the courts turn the right to safety from unreasonable search and seizure to become the right to privacy and from there the right to an abortion. The power to regulate interstate commerce to the power to regulate all commerce that could theoretically become interstate commerce become heavily armed federal agents arresting Amish farmers for selling raw milk. The power to tax becomes the power to force you to buy. Do you really want to give government Constitutional justification to define religious rites? It would be a generation before Progressives from one party or another start to define who takes communion, who can get baptized and when, who can receive absolution. If you think that is a bit extreme go back and read what is Constitutional now. And if those powers over religion sound familiar they should, they are the atrocities that forced some of our ancestors to immigrate here in the first place.
So for a real conservative the issue should not be protecting traditional marriage, it should be to defend religious freedom, and make no mistake those are two very different things.
Part of the confusion comes in because marriage has throughout history had a double purpose, both legal and religious. This is because for a good portion of history government and religion were not separate entities. And marriage in modern America also has that dual role as both a civil and religious institution, and we refer to both as marriage. Yes there are people who get married at city hall, or in ceremonies where a friend has filled out the necessary paperwork, and they only care about the legal part of it…but to just say that modern marriage is nothing but a civil institution would be to deny the blatant fact that for much of the nation (and the world) it is also a religious function. And having an institution that is both civil and religious is dangerous, as we’re seeing (not to mention what happens when one religion finally decides to officially accept gay marriage…you know it’s coming, and when it does if we had a law defining marriage it would be a violation of that religion’s rights).
What I propose (again) is that we separate the religious and civil aspects.
The civil part of it we call civil unions. We change the laws to say that everything that was previously called a marriage is now called a civil union and completely strike the word “marriage” from the legal texts (except maybe a line to say a civil union shall have all the legal rights, privileges and responsibilities of the old legal institution of marriage.) To ensure that they have the same right you just need to make sure that every civil union (in state and federal statutes) is listed as having power of attorney* and having the same protections as attorney client privilege (this should keep all spousal privilege issues safe, as no lawyer on Earth will argue to weaken attorney client privilege) and joint property. Obviously all marriages would be grandfathered in under this new law. Any two people of any gender combination you can think of can get a civil union… (and if we’re really smart we’ll cut back on ease of the no-fault dissolution of such a union, not eliminating a no-fault divorce, but raising the bar just a little. If there is more paperwork to get out people might just rethink some of their divorces…or better yet give just a bit more thought to entering into such a contract).
With civil unions their own legal institution, religion can have marriage. Every religion can use their own definition as to how they want to define it, and government can’t say anything about it. You won’t be able to force someone to perform a marriage because that’s a religious institution, and legally has nothing to do with civil unions. (In fact we should make sure the two things can’t occur at the same time so that there isn’t any confusion. You will have to fill out your paperwork for a civil union in a government building and there will be no vows just a contractual agreement).
Some can have the civil union with the marriage. Some can have the marriage without the civil union. It’s up to individuals. Marriage is between you, your spouse, God, and whatever religious official you want presiding over it. Government has nothing to do with it.
This system protects religious liberty, the importance of the civil institution, equality under the law…and most importantly pisses off both social “conservatives” and liberals who were both looking to extend government power.
It’s a win-win. Every other option, be it Obama’s or Cruz’s and all their respective blind followers, only grants the government power to decide religious issues. This is an option we cannot allow.
*Also this eliminates the idiot complaint; if you allow this you’ll allow bigamy and marrying your dog kind of BS. You can’t give power of attorney to more than one person (yes law firms can be given power of attorney, but a firm is a legal individual) and you can’t give it to animals. One and only one other human being.