The social conservative movement has fought the hard fight against gay marriage, but is now in a recent and rapid retreat. Not by choice but by force.
In 2004, Massachusetts was the first state to establish marriage licensing for homosexual couples.
Since then, 16 states have join Massachusetts in their decision. In 6 of the states the decision was made by courts, in 8 it was made by the state legislature, and in 3 it was made by popular vote. More states will have to make decisions (or have them made for them) in the near future.
The federal government also now recognizes gay marriage for their purposes.
When the gay marriage movement first started gaining steam at the turn of the century, many states amended their constitutions to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Well, that has proven not to work, as state and federal courts now are striking down those amendments.
Is there anything that can be done to stop this tidal wave? Yes, and it doesn't involve old strategies.
In the past (and present), when activist courts would make a ruling changing the cultural landscape, social conservatives would demand better judges be appointed. It hasn't happened. On either the state or federal levels. In fact, the judges have gotten much worse.
Before I go into the solution, here is a short summation of my views: I am a culturally conservative Christian. I'm a libertarian Republican politically.
As such, I find the government changing the meaning of marriage an abomination. At the same time, I also don't believe the government should be defining marriage in the first place. So I have two disagreements with the gay marriage movement on this issue, one being that they want to expand the role of government in marriage, and two, they define it incorrectly, thereby setting an immoral (anti-Christian) social standard.
I (and others) are proposing that social conservatives and libertarians unite for a common goal by removing government from marriage altogether. I know libertarians understand why it is beneficial for their goals to have the government out of marriage, so I want to explain to social conservatives why it is best for them too.
The percentage of Americans who are homosexual is unclear, although it is almost certainly below 10 percent and likely less than 5 percent. Whatever the true number is, they do not represent a significant voting block. Gay marriage is winning because lots of straight people support it. Gallup has been studying the topic for years.
Homosexuals started the gay marriage movement because they wanted to be granted credibility by the government, as society has rightfully never offered them any.
Popular support for gay marriage does not exist because people identify with homosexuals. It exists because there is a perception of inequality and injustice. There is also the perception that if the government does not provide licenses for homosexual couples, that they are somehow banned from marrying. That is not the case, unless your definition of marriage intrinsically requires approval from the government, which is ridiculous in my opinion. Remember, anyone can say they are married with or without the government involved, the issue here is government definition of marriage.
Like many political issues of the day, the theme is "equality" and the historical reference is the Civil Rights Movement.
We can fight fire with fire by offering our own equality to match their equality. With the government out of marriage, there is no inequity, and the popular support for gay marriage would be eroded.
In Oklahoma, lawmakers are considering this proposal. Rep. Mike Turner filed a bill (please ignore the idiotic title at the link) to do away with marriage licensing in response to a federal court's decision to strike down their current marriage law.
During the North Carolina marriage amendment debate in 2011, Rep. Glen Bradley also offered a compelling argument to end marriage licensing.
By now some people reading this probably are bit apprehensive of this proposal. Let me do a quick Q&A to calm your fears.
Q: Without government licenses, will people bother to get and stay married?
A: In 2012, the Heritage Foundation put up an excellent post highlighting the decline of marriage and increase in divorce throughout the years. Marriage licenses haven't done a thing to help marriage. If anything, licenses have desensitized people to the important of marriage.
Q: What about gay adoption?
A: There is still a chance that homosexual couples could end up adopting children. However, the chance of that happening is greatly reduced by eliminating marriage licensing. If the gay marriage movement prevails, the tide will naturally extend to adoption. If the gay marriage movement fails, activists will have to start from scratch when it comes to adoption. Also, lawmakers can rightly argue that many forms of discrimination are inherently necessary when it comes to approving adoptive parents.
Q: What about the tax code, final planning, hospital visits, and other legal expenses?
A: People would be allowed to enter civil contracts for these purposes with whomever they pleased.
I am sure there are going to be other objections as well. Even if some issues did arise, could they possibly be worse than the alternative?
It is my hope that social conservative and libertarian activists can unite on this issue and make it a legislative priority in red states interested in rejecting the gay marriage tide. Virginia is the next state to be targeted by the courts. Perhaps it is the best place to start.