Is There a Conservative Argument for Gay Marriage?

There is a small but steadily growing idea among conservatives that they can support gay marriage and remain conservative. My position is that this is not possible. Here's why.

Gay marriage does not exist as a stand-alone policy issue. Nor is it a conservative issue, because it requires the natural family to be dismantled at the level of public policy. True conservatives support limited government, and they understand that there are other institutions which serve to limit government power. Two of these institutions are the natural family and religion.

Same sex marriage, which as a policy removes the gender requirement for marriage, is a great vehicle for those who wish to increase the scope and power of the government, as it forces these other institutions to diminish. These other institutions can no longer act as an effective barrier against government intrusion into the personal details of people's lives. As these institutions diminish, government will step into the vacuum.

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In order to accommodate gay couples into the institution of marriage, all gendered words are removed from the law, words such as bride, groom, husband, wife, mother, father. These are replaced with gender-neutral words such as partner, party, applicant, and parent.

Some here may recall that in 2011, the Dept. of State tried to replace the words "mother and father" with "parent 1 and parent 2" from passport applications in a bow to LGBT pressure. I predict that as so-called gay marriage gains traction, there will be stronger and stronger calls to remove these words from birth certificates as well. France is completely up in arms over gay marriage for precisely this reason – it unhinges biological parents from their children at the policy level. In Canada it has already happened.

This change means that marriage, as a public policy for every couple and family, becomes genderless. Individuals have gender, of course, but to accommodate gay couples, there is no "gay marriage" as a public policy. A policy of accommodating gay couples into the institution of marriage might look like "bride and groom" for traditional couples, with the addition of "bride and bride" or "groom and groom" for gay couples, but that's not what happens. It's "partner 1 and partner 2" or "party A and party B" or "applicant A and applicant B" as the policy … and it applies to ALL couples, not just gay ones. The new policy removes the traditional requirement that one of each gender be present in the union.

People don't realize that in addition to there being no gay marriage as a policy under genderless marriage, there is also no traditional marriage. Some on the left will ask: "How does gay marriage harm YOUR marriage?" The answer is quite simple: traditional marriage will cease to exist as a public policy. Without gender, how can it?

So the next logical questions should be these:

1. Does marriage exist without sex?
2. Do we really believe that it will be a good thing to eliminate traditional marriage as a distinct policy?
3. What will society look like after a generation has passed without traditional marriage as a distinct policy?

There is, in my mind, absolutely no case for a true conservative to support sexless marriage as a public policy. Liberals, yes. It fits into their worldview quite well to have each individual beholden to the state and to no other institution such as their own natural family or their church … but conservatives? No way.

Click here to read more articles at the Ruth Institute.

Jennifer Thieme Johnson is the associate director at the Ruth Institute.

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