Berkeley's Conservative Voice

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Same Sex Marriage Ban - Time to Give it Up

If you've been under a rock today, you might not know that a federal judge in San Francisco issued an opinion finding California's same sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The ruling itself is fairly inconsequential as it has been stayed and is expected to be appealed all the way up to the US Supreme Court.

To be clear, I don't agree with the ruling. I don't think that the right to have the label marriage applied to a relationship, especially when domestic partnership rights are almost a mirror of marriage rights, trumps the right of the people to decide how to govern their state. That said, I do believe it is time for conservatives to move on.

In the end it comes down to a simple issue: Is there any harm caused by allowing same sex couples to marry? Not is it right or wrong, but does it cause any harm? After years of gay marriage being legal in several other states (and for a few months in our own) I think we can generally say the answer is no. There may be some technical issues to work out - like making sure no entity is forced to perform such marriages, for example - but that can be done easily by statute and does not necessitate banning same sex unions alltogether.

There is great harm being done to the conservative movement, however. Young people who generally support same sex marriage rights are refusing to vote for candidates becasue of their position on this one issue. I have spoken personally with many of them. They may support our opposition to higher taxes, efforts to streamline government and create jobs, and even right to life stance but simply cannot vote for our candidates because they see opposition to same sex marriage as discriminatory and irrational. Although there are no studies on this subject, my guess is that we lose 5-10% of the youth vote based on this one issue, enough to swing some elections (and even more as those youth get older and vote more).

So it comes down to this, what do we value more? Keeping the word marriage from being applied to same sex relationship or moving our country forward? For better or worse, they do seem to be mutually exclusive.


Josh said...

There is potential harm. See Megan McArdle's post on the matter.

Anonymous said...

Selling out on issues to garner votes is not something I support.

Andy Nevis said...

Josh, that's an interesting article but if we use the standard that we can't predict the outcome of any change, then wouldn't the logical conclusion be that we should never change anything? That's simply not possible. We have to be able to make educated predictions, and in this case I just don't think you can reasonably predict any harm to heterosexual marriage.

James, I'm not asking anyone to sell out on this issues. If after looking at both sides of the issue you still believe that same sex marriage would be bad, then by all means keep opposing it. I just happen to believe that's not really the case.

Josh said...

The point is not that we shouldn't change anything, but we should be careful of radically altering fairly successful social institutions, especially if we're unsure the purpose they serve.

Anonymous said...

Considering our society's 50% divorce rate, I wouldn't go so far to call marriage a "fairly successful social institution."

Legal equality has always been a foundational concept in our Republic. So long as we wish to preserve our nation's great tradition of liberty, same-sex couples should be allowed to married.