What is the libertarian position on homosexual marriage?
Strictly speaking, a libertarian philosophy (or even a general libertarian disposition informed by conservatism) cannot speak to the issue of marriage. Accordingly, both libertarians and conservatives must turn to deeper principles to determine whether marriage should include homosexual couples.
A conservative philosophy grounded in an awareness of man’s imperfect nature and the inescapably corrupting influence of power guards against concentration of power. Conservatism, in this sense, allows a religious, traditional, cultural conservative to take a libertarian stance on most issues.
This makes a fairly laissez faire attitude congruent with a conservative political and personal philosophy. On most moral issues brought into the public, the proper conservative stance is to fight for the freedom to live a moral life and the liberty to speak the truth about morality while not resorting to coercion–a middle ground of sorts.
But today, thanks to Howard Dean, Sandra Day O’Connor and the Massachusetts Supreme Court, the question of marriage has come before the public. With marriage, there is no middle ground.
When folks speak about “allowing” homosexual marriage, it is misleading. It makes marriage sound like any other consensual agreement or exercise of property rights.
Civil marriage is, by definition, state involvement. When homosexual activists demand homosexual marriage, they are not asking for the government to allow gay lovers to live together, to wear wedding rings or to sign contracts regarding inheritance or shared property–no federal or state laws currently ban such activities.
No, the call for homosexual marriage is a call for active state endorsement of homosexual relationships and the granting of certain benefits. The state does not simply allow civil marriage: civil marriage would not exist without the state. Marriage, by definition, is active on the part of the government, not passive.
Again, many conservatives are very hesitant inviting the state to make moral judgements. Long ago, however, societies decided that monogamous marriage with a mother and father was an important enough fixture in a community that the state must recognize it.
This elevates civil marriage above a mere contractual relationship, because it obligates the rest of society to recognize it. This provides both rights and responsibilities for the married couples, and makes wedding vows not merely a bilateral agreement, but a promise to the community at large.
The homosexual lobby and progressive crusaders are not asking for same-sex couples to be left alone. They are asking for the state’s stamp of approval on homosexuality. In turn, they are asking for the people to condone what they are doing.
When the state recognizes a marriage–any marriage–it is making a moral judgement in which all its citizens are implicated. There is no extra-moral stance here. You either say “yes” or “no” to homosexual relationships and homosexual activity.
Unless one is ready to abolish all state marriage–making it the domain only of religion and private contracts–one’s views on homosexual marriage must come directly from one’s moral view on homosexual activity.
Condemning homosexual behavior but calling for the state to recognize it, is an incoherent position. Such a stance is not a laissez faire attitude of “I disapprove, but will tolerate this.” No, it is tantamount to saying, “this is wrong, but I approve of it.”
The principle of liberty–a guiding star for libertarians–does not play a role in this debate. Once we’ve granted the legitimacy of civil marriage, we are already playing on the turf of government action. The next question is: whose morality will guide that government action?
A moral judgment must be made. For a conservative, religion and tradition provide the best guidance.
The issue of homosexual marriage is a major battle in the culture war. Ultimately the courts will likely remove the issue from the power of the people and the states. But while there is a battle to be fought, there is no neutral ground: you either stand with tradition or with the liberal forces of cultural revolution.
Tim Carney is a reporter for the Evans-Novak Political Report.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Emma Elliott Freire