I know I'm not usually in the business of telling conservatives how to become better politicians. I'm usually in the business of simply pointing out why I think their side sucks. However, when it comes to gay marriage, I think that the right* is making a big, big mistake. They are betting against the American tendency to become more accepting of different relationships over time. For example, anti-miscegenation laws used to be commonplace. Now the idea of making it illegal for people of different races to marry is absurd to a vast majority of Americans. I think that outlawing gay marriage will someday be seen as equally absurd. To align yourself with such a viewpoint just isn't an intelligent position to take. It is painfully short sighted.
But that's not the point of this post. What I want to examine now, is one of the utter lies that we are told about the right: they favor small government. I think the best way to do this is to examine two of the positions they are most known for, anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion rights.
The idea of small government is supposedly focused on individual liberties. For example, from The Center for Small Government:
To me, this means that the government is as uninvolved in my personal affairs as possible. However, the same people who assert this premise also are attempting to regulate some of the most personal affairs that there can be: The state of a woman's body and the intimate relationships between consenting adults.
Small government means individual liberty and personal responsibility.
Small government enables and encourages self-reliance and voluntary cooperation. Creativity and productivity. Progress and prosperity.
To make my point, I submit this "rant" by Representative Anthony Weiner (greatest name for this topic, ever.) As he points out, attempting to outlaw abortion is one of the biggest examples of of government overstepping its bounds. Ever.
I think that outlawing gay marriage is another perfect example of this. Gay marriage for me highlights the intersection of personal liberties, religious freedoms, and human rights. In my mind, the government, as a governing body of all people should not have their hands in the business of allowing certain benefits to some people (straight) over other people (gay.)
Usually, the right wants to claim that marriage is a holy contract, preformed by the church, before God. Ok, let's run with this premise for a moment.
In this case, a "small government" would remove itself from marriage all together, viewing it as solely within the realm of the church. Therefore, the government would stay totally neutral to marriage and totally allow churches to make their own decisions. If a church disallowed gay marriage, so be it. If a church allowed gay marriage (which there would be many!) then so be it. To offer a religious neutral option in this arrangement, the government could offer civil unions to ALL couples (gay and straight) who did not want to unite in the church.
However, this option is NEVER discussed by the right...which I feel is due to the fact that it is well known that this would lead to a plethora of gay marriages. Conservatives in America want to limit gay marriage so much that they do not even follow their own doctrine of "small government" which would stay out of intimate affairs and a couple's relationship with their church. However, in order to argue against gay marraige they speak religious-talk in political institutions. They extol the virtues of "tradtional marriage" intended by God to be one man and one woman.
You see what they did there? They claim to act on behalf of church and God, but don't actually let the churches make the decision for themselves.
When all else fails, they turn to ridiculousness. In an NPR interview with Maggie Gallager, the Chairman (wth?--chairperson!) of the Board of the National Organization for Marriage, she went to the old standby argument: If we allow gay marriage now, next we'll be allowing poly-marriages and marriages to animals. It's like they can never, ever just let it be about the right for two, loving, consenting adults to marry. That's what this is really about.
...and getting the government the hell OUT of such intimate situations. I'm not for small government, necessarily, but I am for less government where is really, really counts...such as inside my body or my relationships. The hypocrisy of it all is staggering. I'm with Rep Weiner. Don't let conservatives tell you they are in favor of small government until they stop trying to outlaw gay marriage and abortion. Just don't let them feed you that egregious lie.
*I am using the terms "conservatives" and "the right" interchangeably in this blog to discuss people affiliated with the Republican party. I realize that this group of people is a diverse one with many political views represented, but here I am speaking to those who adhere to what is considered traditional conservative views.