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The GOP has been struggling to deal with social issues and the ballot for some time now. In the conservative echo chamber that is a fact that is daily denied, and the proof offered is the continual support of vocal social conservatives. They are a very vocal minority, and that is not helping the situation. It’s further complicated by the fact that in hindsight, it has been generally assumed that the only reason Barack Obama ended up with a second term was because conservative Republicans decided to stay home on election day, instead of voting for Mitt Romney. Or maybe that isn’t a complicating factor.
For some time now, political pundits and strategists have been going back and forth over precisely where liberty-minded millennial voters will land in upcoming elections. It is hoped that they will decide to follow Tea Party leaders like Rand Paul and Justin Amash, at least since these people are aligned with the GOP, if in name only. That would probably be the case if economic, foreign policy, and deficit spending were the only issues these voters cared about. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
The fact is that while younger voters might agree with many conservative principles when it comes to fiscal and foreign policy issues, they can’t get past the social issues to choose conservatives where it counts — at the ballot box. This is something that Larry Sabato’s Center for Politics has already explored in depth. Boil it down to basics, and the bottom line is that there isn’t a majority of young voters that are for pushing social conservative issues. On the contrary, they’re largely opposed to the conservative stand.
One particular issue that annoys them is gay marriage, and that was made readily apparent on Twitter once news of the death of Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy hit the web. The suggestion I’m about to make here is not about rewarding bad behavior. It is purely about campaign strategy.
Before writing about politics, I regularly found myself working in the background of political campaigns, and a great deal of my time and energy toward the end of my time in the campaign “game” was spent on solving problems. Usually I would be doing damage control, or preventing the need to do it in the first place, but occasionally I was pulled in for sessions of crafting policy positions. In the case of gay marriage, ostensibly the conservative position in opposition to the concept is seated firmly on preservation of the First Amendment protections of the practice of religion. No matter how much anyone may wish it otherwise, the fact is that the next generation coming up is not highly concerned with organized religion. With few exceptions, churches across the nation are showing that with fewer people in the pews on Sundays. This is probably part of the reason why there is also growing support for gay marriage, even within the ranks of GOP operatives.
The bottom line remains that the U.S. is increasingly becoming an irreligious nation. As opposed to various hot button issues like gay marriage, the GOP probably should be focusing its efforts more fully on the preservation of religious liberty in general. So, what is a possible solution to the problem of alienating young voters that are generally conservative on fiscal issues? Perhaps the GOP should consider crafting a bill to grant gays the right to marry. Before anyone decides that I’ve become some sort of liberal squish, consider the underlying issues I’ve already listed. Opposing gay marriage is supposedly about protecting religious freedoms. The state does not sanctify any marriages in this country — churches do. As far as the state is concerned, the term “marriage” is a description of a class of personal contracts — a very lucrative class, since people have to pay for the privilege to enter into these contracts, and often end up paying higher taxes for remaining under the power of them. It is not about anything sacred; it is all about the money.
The GOP needs to get more millennials supporting the party, so why not introduce a bill allowing gay marriage? In addition to that, forbid child marriage, polygamy, and bestiality for good measure. Also, include a clause bolstering the already guaranteed separation of church and state, by specifically stating that the government may not force any church to sanctify gay marriage either through legislation or judicial action. That would in one step silence liberals on one hot button issue, gain untold numbers of millennial voters, and do precisely what conservatives theoretically wanted in the first place — to protect the rights of religious organizations to refuse to accept gay marriage on the basis of religious doctrine.
The only opposing argument that would remain would be overt discrimination by churches, but that is easily dispatched by pointing out that participation in a religious organization is purely a matter of personal choice. If one disagrees with a church’s doctrine, they are not bound to remain aligned with that faith. They are free to either find another church, or attempt to sway the church leadership toward their own position. Regardless, it is not a matter for the state to mediate.
The main reason we have gotten into this issue in the first place is the fact that we’ve allowed the government to remove religious organizations from a special class status, immune from claims of discrimination based on religious doctrine or religious community standards. The whole point of religious communities has been lost — creating an organization of people with similar beliefs. If one does not agree with those beliefs, by definition one does not belong in that given religious community.
Before anyone’s head starts imploding, we must not forget one important point. If such a bill was introduced in the House, it will most likely die in the Senate. Harry Reid remains the obstructionist, so no matter how much liberals may want to pass this sort of bill, it is highly unlikely it will happen. The point of this exercise is to make the point that conservatives are not in complete opposition to the issues that millennials consider important. This is filed under “actions speak louder than words.” It’s also a lesson in freedom.
It is time that we, as conservatives, remember that the true price of freedom, outside of giving one’s life for it while in service to the military, is to defend the rights of people we don’t agree with, as much as we defend our own rights. To do otherwise is hypocrisy.