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Regulating Love

Feb
14
2006

As many Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day (that’s today, Dad, if you’re reading), my mind remains riddled by a question that came to me over the weekend at the uber-Republican Conservative Political Action Conference: If we Republicans are the party of limited government, why would we want the state to micromanage our most intimate personal relationships?
On Friday at CPAC, the Heritage Foundation’s Matthew Spalding called for a Constitutional convention to federalize marriage. Conservatives have been loathe to call for a constitutional convention for even their apple pie issue, flag burning out of fear that such a meeting would formalize such atrocities as Abortion for All and Equal Rights for Women. But marriage is under attack, and only the Feds can save it!
Whatever happened to the worst phrase anyone can hear is, “I’m from the Government and I am here to help?”
So, let’s get serious on this day about serious love. If you don’t trust the Government to regulate business, provide healthcare, or clean the environment then why would you want it to have jurisdiction over a blessed, religious sacrament that involves your most intimate relations with another person?
Ah, there’s the rub. The Republican Party, it turns out, has always wanted government control instead of religious freedom when it comes to marriage.
As the Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg pointed out, the original platform of the Republican Party demanded that the Federal government recognize only the traditional two-person, Judeo-Christian understanding of marriage. In fact, Utah statehood was held up for years until the state (and its mostly Mormon political leadership) banned the practice of polygamy—even though local religious customs recognized it.
At its core, marriage should be a religious—not a governmental—institution. Those, like Sprigg and Spalding, who demand that we “protect” marriage really want the Federal government to protect their religion’s definition of marriage. And that definition leaves people whose Church, synagogue or other place of worship has other definitions of what constitutes a marriage out in the cold. Were marriage returned to its proper domain—houses of worship—arguments about polygamy or marrying my dog would be irrelevant as such relations would be given the same legal standing as they are today.
State courts here in California are weighing the measure on Equal Protection grounds. Elseswhere ‘privacy” is the issue. And you have to wonder: is recognizing one religion’s definition of marriage at the expense of others, the establishment of religion by the state? And isn’t that a more fundamental violation of all our constitutional rights? Of course, Sprigg and Spalding don’t mind using this yardstick. They’re trying to establish their own religion as the law of the land.
If the Republican Party were truly the party of limited government, out leaders wouldn’t be trying to force one religious view on all Americans, they’d realize that the best way to “protect” marriage is to return it to the provenance of the Church, the Temple, the Mosque or whatever religion chooses to bestow the sacrament.

Share  Posted by Scott Olin Schmidt at 12:28 PM | Permalink

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