In part one,
I concluded with the opinion that the state (read the government at every
level) should abstain from involvement in private agreements – including
marriage. Predictably, this struck a nerve with many conservative readers
of the article, since the idea of “gay marriages” is inimical to many conservatives’
deeply held beliefs regarding marriages and lifestyle choices. Nevertheless,
this issue appears to defy efforts to load it cleanly into a partisan catapult
to hurl recklessly into enemy territory, as is the fate of many other issues.
Republicans and Democrats alike are finding the prospect of gay marriages
too bitter a pill to swallow, as reason becomes subordinate to fear.
For many of the Democratic presidential candidates, it is a fear of losing
the “mainstream” vote – for others, it is an unfounded fear of the destruction
of some “social order” here in America. Oddly enough, many of these
same individuals are apparently devoid of fear of the continual destruction
of individual freedoms.
The gay marriage debate has been injected with pointed opposition from blacks,
who have encountered many comparisons drawn between this issue and the civil
rights movement in America. Such comparisons have been denounced as
outrageous by some – claiming that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, while
skin-color is not. It is pointless to manufacture some sort of discrimination
hierarchy, where one considers (institutionalized) discrimination by race
more odious than discrimination by sexual orientation. Ultimately,
they are both discrimination by the state, and therefore violate individual
Since the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision, a number of conservative
columnists have put forth a variety of arguments opposing gay marriages.
Author and syndicated columnist Mona Charen believes that “if they insist
that homosexual unions be sanctified, we have no choice but to resist.”
Exactly who is this “we” that she is referring to? How is this resistance
to occur? If by saying “we,” she is identifying herself and others
of the same opinion with the state, then this implies that the “we” intends
to use the state to impose their will, beliefs, and desires upon others.
Surely, this isn’t the “conservative” way – is it?
Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Pubic Policy, writes the following in the Weekly Standard:
“Marriage was not just a private taste or a values issue or even a religious
issue, it was one of the handful of core social institutions that make limited
government, and a constitutional republic, possible.”
Apparently, she and others are unaware of the definition of a limited government.
The existence of private agreements, whether social or economic, unfettered
by the state, is a sine qua non of freedom – which is what a limited
government allows. Any government that uses its monopoly power of law
enforcement to restrict private agreements is limited only by the ability
of those in the majority to impose their will on the citizenry.
It is also worth noting the pervasiveness of the word “institution” among
opponents of gay marriages when discussing the issue. This is not coincidental.
It indicates a thinly veiled attempt to place certain private contracts –
in this case, marriages -- within the purview of the state, by separating
it from other private agreements. Referring to marriages as “institutions”
is simply a diversion from acknowledging that marriages are indeed private
It is quite natural and understandable to possess differing opinions and
positions based on various philosophical, moral, or religious beliefs.
However, one cannot claim to believe in and support freedom, while in the
same breath, advocating the restraint of private agreements by government
Sean Turner is a regular columnist for RenewAmerica.us, GOPUSA.com, and MensNewsDaily.com, and has appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Washington Times.