Gay marriage is controversial. It shouldn't be. Distilled to its basic elements, advocating equal rights for gay Americans is about properly protecting each individual's right to self-determination, free from government interference. On this issue, young Republicans and conservatives will lead the older generation of Republicans out of the wilderness — or push them over a cliff of irrelevance.
Opinion polls of young conservatives show us consistently more pro-life, pro-gun, pro-free market and “pro-gay” than our predecessors. This trend originates from our personal interactions with gay family members and friends and our commitment to the conservative ideals abandoned by the older generation to maintain political power.
Regarding marriage specifically, many of us believe matrimony isn't legitimately within the purview of the state and that the state doesn't have the competence to define marriage. But if the people insist that marriage continue as a government-sponsored institution, then equal treatment under the law must apply regardless of sexual orientation.
Conservatives oppose the accumulation of power in government because it inevitably destroys the natural rights of individuals. The national fiber is damaged when select citizens are favored over others. Enactment of legal discriminations against entire classes of Americans implies inferiority in society and weakens the security of the enjoyment of their rights. Thus, when legislators enact laws that expand government power in such a manner, there is nothing conservative about them.
Many of today's older Republicans discarded their conservative principles to expand government and use its power for fleeting political gain or to reinforce personal religious views on homosexuality — an increasingly difficult task as more churches concede the patently obvious fact that sexual orientation is not an individual's choice. Such use of the coercive force of government is no better than liberals hijacking the state to restrict individual rights for reckless experiments in left-wing social engineering.
Our older colleagues often claim normalization of gay acceptance heralds the end of America. One must marvel at the irony when America is accused of losing its moral bearings by a generation that gave America historically high divorce rates, 50 million Americans on food stamps, a $17 trillion national debt for their grandchildren to repay, and unfunded entitlements to be enjoyed exclusively by the older generation.
Though gays are responsible for none of these maladies, they often represent a convenient bogeyman for those who wish to avoid scrutiny for their role in bringing them about. Contra the doomsayers, the end of America won't come when we allow gays to marry, but when we end the freedom of the individual.
The older generation of Republicans must take heed: Their views on gay rights are outmoded and are being rapidly superseded by younger conservatives who believe government's purpose isn't to restrict individual rights, but to protect them.
Fairbanks is chairman of the Cleveland County Young Republicans.