Your Wednesday Debate


As one of your editors, I take it as my responsibility to occasionally throw a grenade in the middle of the room and run away as fast as I can. So, for you all to debate, here’s former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, writing in the pages of the Wall Street Journal:

Some misperceive the issue of marriage equality as exclusively progressive. Yet what could be more conservative than support for more freedom and less government? And what freedom is more basic than the right to marry the person you love? Smaller, less intrusive government surely includes an individual deciding whom to marry. Allowing civil marriage for same-sex couples will cultivate community stability, encourage fidelity and commitment, and foster family values.


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Members have made 49 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of M Tabor Inactive

    Troy, if the Ricochet community actually discusses the Ghostbuster stream-crossing of individual freedom vs. deciding exactly how others should live, we might come dangerously close to realizing how the American public processes the GOP and Conservatives.

    • #1
    • November 22, 2012 at 2:58 am
  2. Profile photo of The Disciplinary Committee Member
    Troy Senik, Ed.:

    Smaller, less intrusive government surely includes an individual deciding whom to marry. 

    Excellent, then surely Mehlman also supports eliminating the licensing of marriages by the state completely, and also eliminating the requirement to register marriages with the state.

    • #2
    • November 22, 2012 at 3:06 am
  3. Profile photo of Retail Lawyer Member

    His first sentence is, “They say demography is destiny, and in American politics destiny has belonged to those who best aligned their core beliefs with the rapidly changing and ever-improving citizenry.” Ever improving? Really? OK, I got ready for the usual self esteem enhancing puffery.

    His argument does not deal with the arguments made on the traditional marriage defense. What he says is true, so far as it goes, especially his point that gay marriage advocates consider the issue very important while it is not so important to those opposed.

    • #3
    • November 22, 2012 at 3:08 am
  4. Profile photo of BrentB67 Inactive

    As much as it pains to admit there may be something intersting coming from the GOP past or present, I think he is on to something.

    I believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman before God.

    That said there are majorities in certain states who think it is appropriate for people of the same sex to ‘marry’ or at least memorialize some kind of civil partnership.

    I believe liberty and federalism are the path forward for conservatives like me and that means taking some bad with the good. If I want the federal government out of my wallet, schools, power plants, doctor’s office, etc. I have to be equally accepting that the federal government needs to stay out of telling individual states how to define marriage.

    I think there is merit to the federal government not telling states how to define marriage and at the same time guaranteeing that states do not have to recognize other states definition of marriage.

    • #4
    • November 22, 2012 at 3:08 am
  5. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    I don’t care about this issue. If pressed, I feel like Brent but of course the federal government is in my office daily, in spirit at least.

    • #5
    • November 22, 2012 at 3:11 am
  6. Profile photo of Jim Ixtian Inactive

    Dear oh dear. Another post on gay marriage.

    If Ricochet can’t offer content that doesn’t obsess about gay marriage, then I really wonder what is the point of Ricochet? And no, gay marriage isn’t marriage no matter how much the pro-SSM crowd calls it such. I’ll go one step further and call the SSM movement for what it is-a dishonest, cynical backdoor attempt to normalize homosexuality and force acceptance of it upon American society. I also think it nothing more than a mental illness or abuse of power.

    I also think Republicans & Conservatives are complete cowards when it comes to defending heterosexual marriage-something I’ve pointed out many times before. Look at the numbers.

    In 2009 there were about 150,000 gay married people. All of them. That’s it.

    In 2010 there were 872,000 divorces in the US among heterosexuals. Per year. That number excludes data from several states including California.

    So why exactly are we spending so much time on a issue that affects so few people when there is an issue that does effect far more people?

    Conservatives need to focus or else they’ll become a joke.

    • #6
    • November 22, 2012 at 3:26 am
  7. Profile photo of TucsonSean Inactive

    What could be more conservative than following the will of God? What could be more progressive than sanctioning of libertinism and immorality?

    • #7
    • November 22, 2012 at 3:27 am
  8. Profile photo of Douglas Member

    Mehlman can dress it up however he likes, but there’s absolutely nothing conservative about redefining marriage. Nothing, nada, zip. He’d be more honest labeling this a libertarian issue. This is yet another example of how some people are putting the “conservative” label in some very un-conservative things. 

    • #8
    • November 22, 2012 at 3:31 am
  9. Profile photo of iDad Member

    Under Mr. Mehlman’s formulation, wouldn’t “smaller, less intrusive government” justify the abandonment of any number of conservative principles?

    • #9
    • November 22, 2012 at 3:33 am
  10. Profile photo of BrentB67 Inactive
    iDad: Under Mr. Mehlman’s formulation, wouldn’t “smaller, less intrusive government” justify the abandonment of any number of conservative principles? · 1 minute ago

    His formulation does exactly that. One of the challenges is defining conservative principles. The question becomes is smaller less intrusive government a conservative value. I think so, but my opinion isn’t more valid than any other.

    If smaller less intrusive federal government is a conservative value I think we have to be ready to take some bad with the good and be prepared to fight for some conservative principles at the state rather than federal level. Long term I think that is a good thing.

    • #10
    • November 22, 2012 at 3:43 am
  11. Profile photo of Nick Stuart Thatcher

    Is this the same Ken Mehlman who was RNC Chairman in 2006? That was a real winning year for Republicans.

    • #11
    • November 22, 2012 at 3:48 am
  12. Profile photo of Full Size Tabby Member

    OK. So, would those who deal with “married” people and “marriages” (employers providing benefits to employees, marriage counselors, caterers, photographers, etc.) also have the freedom to choose which “marriages” to recognize?

    • #12
    • November 22, 2012 at 4:00 am
  13. Profile photo of Rachel Lu Contributor

    The rebuttal basically requires just two points.

    First, the marriage debate isn’t about who should be permitted to marry whom. It’s about *what marriage is*. Secondarily, it concerns the question of whether government should be permitted to dictate what it is even to groups who have believed otherwise for centuries, for good and serious reasons that they could articulate if anyone would listen.

    Homosexual marriage will not promote stability unless homosexual marriages are themselves stable. Sociological evidence to date has suggested that they tend not to be.

    • #13
    • November 22, 2012 at 4:05 am
  14. Profile photo of Chris O. Member

    My thoughts on the matter are here, something I put on the member feed. Simply put: government should not be involved in defining any religious institution (marriage), particularly one that preceded country’s existence by a couple of millenia. They should only define the legal construct (civil union).

    • #14
    • November 22, 2012 at 4:07 am
  15. Profile photo of Roberto Member
    Troy Senik, Ed.: As one of your editors, I take it as my responsibility to occasionally throw a grenade in the middle of the room and run away as fast as I can. · 1 hour ago


    • #15
    • November 22, 2012 at 4:16 am
  16. Profile photo of Scott Wilmot Member

    We must transform the wreckage that is modern culture in charity and truth – this must be the guiding principle. Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.

    There is nothing just whatsoever in the redefinition of marriage. Arguing for this with a motivation of niceness or fairness fails in both charity and truth.

    • #16
    • November 22, 2012 at 4:30 am
  17. Profile photo of flownover Inactive

    I would say to Mr Mehlman, if you haven’t been brought up to assume and adhere to certain values, then how will the state be responsible for teaching them to you.

    Like hopscotching thousands of years of culture is going to help and the state should be the one to pull you through the obstacle course of history, which takes a bit longer than you’d like ?

    His whole premise is a copout. But they keep throwing their mud on the wall and waiting for it to stick, too bad we all get splattered and worry that our kids will be confused by these messages and what we attempt to do in our own homes . 

    • #17
    • November 22, 2012 at 4:35 am
  18. Profile photo of iDad Member

    I have never understood that “smaller, less intrusive government” is the conservative value that trumps all others. If it is, what is the conservative position on abortion? National defense?

    • #18
    • November 22, 2012 at 4:37 am
  19. Profile photo of Trace Inactive

    1. Agree with those that contend this is a tiresome, lazy editorial trope Troy that is beneath you. Find a better grenade. 

    2. I agree with Mehlman. Here in San Francisco, the lunatic fringe, gay families behave in all those boring but terrific community affirming ways that strengthen the culture. I have argued this extensively many, many times on Ricochet.

    3. I also agree with those that note that if social conservatives want to fight a culture war they should fight about what really matters and that is the disintegration of the family, the state’s sponsorship of single parenthood, the absolute nonsense that “slut shaming” is a bad thing, the casual nature of marriage and (thus) divorce. These things matter. Gay people marrying does not. It is happening and will continue to happen with greater frequency whether the state endorses it or not. 

    • #19
    • November 22, 2012 at 4:49 am
  20. Profile photo of BrentB67 Inactive

    In discussing smaller less intrusive government as a conservative value I think we need to define what government we are talking about.

    I want Texas to have a Constitutionatl Amendment defining marriage as a union of a man and woman. I also want Texas to restrict abortion, allow concealed handguns on campus, have 85mph speed limits, and enforce the death penalty. I want the federal governmet to stay out of Texan’s rights to enact and enforce all these things and many others.

    Is it conservative to want a small non intrusive federal government, but to have a larger and potentially more intrusive state government?

    • #20
    • November 22, 2012 at 4:50 am
  21. Profile photo of dittoheadadt Member

    Why only “couples,” Ken?

    • #21
    • November 22, 2012 at 4:53 am
  22. Profile photo of TheSophist Inactive

    I agree 110% with Ken Mehlman. What freedom, indeed, could be more basic than the right to marry the person you love. Or persons. I mean, conservative values dictate that the silly theocratic laws against polygamy be repealed; after all, the Constitution says so. Somewhere. I think.

    For that matter, why are we limiting the blessings of freedom only to unrelated persons? All sixteen of my cousins want to marry each other in one giant family-values driven, socially stable marriage. What could be more conservative indeed? If Lolita wants to marry her dad, why is the government restricting such a basic human right?

    You go, Ken! Show the world what conservatism really means.

    • #22
    • November 22, 2012 at 4:56 am
  23. Profile photo of The Disciplinary Committee Member

    I want every Republican who comes out in favour of gay marriage to also give their position on the current state of divorce law.

    I don’t fear gay marriage as much as I fear no-fault divorce.

    But that’s just me.

    • #23
    • November 22, 2012 at 5:02 am
  24. Profile photo of Jim Brown Inactive

    NAMBLA is next out of the box requiring that we respect diversity and the wonders of love. SSM is only the opening act of this play.

    • #24
    • November 22, 2012 at 5:03 am
  25. Profile photo of Gus Marvinson Inactive

    More freedom and less government would allow us to boil and eat our own children too. Geez, my ten year-old can see the problem with Mehlman’s logic.

    That’s it, I’m registering as an Independent. The Republican brand has lost its meaning.

    • #25
    • November 22, 2012 at 5:05 am
  26. Profile photo of AIG Member

    What’s there to discuss? I agree. 

    The issue has been twisted beyond recognition because of semantics: should we call it “marriage”? Is “marriage” a religious institution or a civil institution? These arguments distract from what is the essence of the problem: government involvement in “marriage”defines the nature of the construct.

    “Marriage” is not a religious institution in the US if in order for one to be legally married, one needs to sign a from in front of a government official. Marriage for the purposes of religious reasons, is not the same as civil marriage in the eyes of the US government. It also doesn’t serve the same purposes.

    Therefore, religious oppositions to government-recognized marriage are not particularly convincing, since the two types of “marriage” are not equivalent. 

    Government cannot distinguish between a religious marriage, and a civil marriage. I, for example, have been married in a civil sense without ever having any religious ceremony or affiliation. Therefore my marriage is not the same as a “religious marriage”, and serves different purposes. 

    The conservative argument is either that the government recognize all unions, or that it have no business in recognizing unions. The name “marriage” is inconsequential. 

    • #26
    • November 22, 2012 at 5:07 am
  27. Profile photo of AIG Member

    I want every Republican who comes out in favour of gay marriage to also give their position on the current state of divorce law.

    No fault divorce law is, in my opinion, not only consistent with conservative principles, but essential. What business is it of government to restrict my ability to enter or exit a contract? If civil marriage is a legal contract which I must sign in front of a government official (making it different from a religious marriage which is between me and God), therefore the dissolution of this contract is equally a legal matter. It ought to be no different than any other legal contract between parties. 

    This is also an argument for getting government OUT of the business of marriage. If you want marriage to be anything more than a legal contract, then don’t argue for more government involvement in drafting the legal terms of the contract. If the contract is between me, my spouse, and God, than what business is it of Uncle Sam? Right? Otherwise, the contract between me and God is a different than the one between me and Uncle Sam. 

    • #27
    • November 22, 2012 at 5:13 am
  28. Profile photo of Vance Richards Member

    Using the force of government to eliminate an institution that has existed for all of recorded history so you can create a new one that you hope will impress a fringe group is conservative? That is “less” government? Seriously?

    • #28
    • November 22, 2012 at 6:42 am
  29. Profile photo of Copperfield Member

    Wherever we stand on this issue, this discussion illustrates the intellectual rigor we Constitutional Conservatives demand of ourselves. We try to have a logical set of positions that do not contradict one another, as hard as that may be sometimes. We put a lot of thought, reading, and discussion behind our positions and most of us are usually open to new information. Most leftist positions are simplistic arguments that “feel good” or “sound nice” with little thought of unintended consequences and often outright denial of any secondary or tertiary effects beyond their intent. On top of that, they’re dishonestly presented as “nuanced” and, adding the insult of intellectual dishonesty, moral preening, and pseudo superiority to the injury they do to the country and culture, many of their policy positions require that the rest of us subsidize these injuries. Pathetic, insulting, infuriating. Constitutional Conservatism, it just works.

    • #29
    • November 22, 2012 at 7:07 am
  30. Profile photo of Douglas Member
    Misthiocracy: I want every Republican who comes out in favour of gay marriage to also give their position on the current state of divorce law.

    I don’t fear gay marriage as much as I fear no-fault divorce.

    But that’s just me. · 2 hours ago

    One mistake is not an excuse for another. 

    • #30
    • November 22, 2012 at 7:17 am
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