Over the past months, my social media and seemingly all news media have exploded with an issue that is hard to believe still exists as an issue: gay marriage.
Let me first say that if federal laws are to exist, they should be applied equally. This position seems almost inconsequential because it is so obvious. At least in my generation, the prevailing view of gay marriage, regardless of political and religious beliefs, seems to be “who cares?” Of course consenting adults should be allowed to enter into contracts freely. And frankly, gay marriage is no threat whatsoever me or my values.
That said, the recent firestorm represents something else entirely, and reaction from the liberty community has been strikingly mixed.
I, and most libertarians, take the position that marriage is not the government’s business. I will never get a marriage license as my own personal protest against state control in this area. Many others are the same.
However, this position has been demonized by a large number of the liberty movement. Ron Paul’s position on marriage is maligned as a “cop-out”, “cowardly”, or even “impractical and unrealistic”.
What a shame.
The gay marriage debate is one in which there are no easy answers. With respect to those who analogize it similarly to the Civil Rights movement, it is not. There are similarities, and while I am personally diametrically opposed to discrimination of any sort, it is a fundamental misunderstanding of both Evangelical theology and common sense to lump the two together so broadly.
As with most issues, the core of the problem is really the state. While some in church communities do irrationally fear some undefined “threat” from the “gay agenda”, the majority have real fears. Churches fear prosecution for not allowing same-sex marriages. Religious adoption agencies fear repercussions for refusing to work with gay couples, and these concerns are valid, because a core of libertarian philosophy is, or should be, that private individuals and businesses can associate freely - no matter how distasteful those associations are.
Likewise, those on the other side face discrimination and hardships – from the state. Unequal tax benefits or estate control or a host of other issues relate directly to the government demanding one ask and receive permission for a basic right.
Those who bring up the fact that government should not control marriage are maligned as impractical and told that they are “making the perfect the enemy of the good.” I sympathize with this approach and have taken it often.
However, there is nothing good about expanding federal control into an area in which it has no business. I will not be upset if the Court decides in favor of gay marriage, broadly defined. but because I don’t believe in, say, unequal standards for gun registration, does not mean I’m going to fight for federal gun registration across the board. I don’t believe drafting only men is just; that doesn’t mean I’m going to fight to extend selective service to women.
Realizing that the government should not be involved in the issue is not a cop-out. Rather, it goes to the core of the issue beyond all the emotional noise surrounding it. There is no good answer to this issue except to remove the state, and that is where my key priority remains, as always.