Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s decision to oppose gay marriage has only heightened the polarized nature of this year’s presidential campaign. Along with President Barack Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage and the likelihood that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear two same-sex marriage cases in the near future, it seems as if the United States is in a full-fledged marriage war. Republicans have obstinately defended Cathy, defining marriage singularly as a sacred covenant between one man and one woman. And yet, there is something highly contradictory about a party that advocates the regulation of marriage, but rallies behind a platform for smaller government.
The GOP has backed a presidential candidate who strongly defines the institution of marriage as only a heterosexual relationship, yet criticized Obama for believing that “the way to [lift people out of poverty] is to have the government […] choose winners and losers.” What is so ironic about this statement is that Mr. Romney does believe the government should pick winners and losers in marriage. He believes that heterosexual couples should win and homosexual couples should lose. Both parties have locked political horns over this highly sensitive issue, unable to find room for compromise. It is clear that civil unions are no longer a viable option. But what the Republican Party doesn’t seem to grasp is that picking winners and losers in marriage may be just as detrimental to America as picking winners and losers in the economy.
The debate about gay marriage seems to be so delicate mainly because neither party has clearly defined the difference between holy marriage and state marriage. As a Christian, I made a commitment to my husband in a church in front of friends and family as God as our witness. Had we not proceeded into the church office after the ceremony to sign a legal document, we would have been married in the eyes of God and our religion. Yet the legal document we both signed allowed our marriage to be recognized by the state. They were completely separate and distinguishable events, yet many Republicans seem to view them in the same light. America has not discriminated against heterosexual couples who decide not to engage in holy marriage, so why have we denied that right to homosexual couples? In a world where pop culture stars are married for less than three months, it is clear that marriage is hardly a life commitment for many. Holy marriage is a conscious act before God, and should not involve the state. It should be up to individual religious institutions to decide whether or not gay couples should be allowed to get married in their sanctuaries or by their officiates. But this should have no bearing on whether homosexual couples can marry in secular institutions or those religious organizations that are accepting of gay marriage.
The state allows benefits to marriages recognized legally that are highly valuable. And while individual states are allowed to define marriage separately, the federal government’s Defense of Marriage Act restricts legally-married homosexual couples from receiving federal marriage benefits. Denying monogamous gay couples the rights to a host of Social Security benefits, tax benefits, veteran and military benefits, federal employment benefits and immigration benefits is clearly discriminatory, arguably against existing laws forbidding discrimination by sexual orientation, and simply un-American. Allowing heterosexual couples to “win” and homosexual couples to “lose” is as prejudiced as the Jim Crow laws, as well as all the bailouts that gave valuable aid to politically powerful industrial and trade union constituencies.
Many Republicans are essentially advocating for the Church and the State to be one and the same. They are fighting for bigger government and cronyism in marriage, although they claim to want more individual freedom and personal liberties elsewhere. The inherent contradiction is astounding. As of yet, there has been no viable presidential candidate who supports small government, free-markets and unconstrained capitalism, but also believes that anti-gay marriage laws are unacceptable. This is a shame for thousands of American voters, including myself, come November. America was founded on the principles of freedom. But freedom for gay Americans is being trivialized by the very group that claims to want it the most. Smaller government is vital to a thriving economy. But it is a mistake to think that small government ends with fiscal responsibility. Gay Americans deserve the right to legally recognized marriages. Picking winners and losers in marriage is a mistake.
Kathryn Shelton is a research associate at SMU Cox’s O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom. She is most recently co-author of Hybrids and Hype, published in the May edition of The Freeman.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Emma Elliott Freire