Yes to gay marriage for conservative reasons

There are two big ironies in the gay marriage debate. It is ironic that conservatives, with the emphasis on family values are against it and it is also ironic that liberals, with their own celebration of alternative lifestyles are for it. I hope that I will be able to antagonize both sides in this post.

First let me declare sides. I am in favor of full legal recognition of gay marriage. Religions can choose to recognize it or not at their option. I would not presume to interfere in matters of faith. But we wisely have a division between church and state in the U.S.

Marriage is good for individuals and for society. On average, married people are healthier, better off financially and more emotionally secure. They commit fewer crimes, are institutionalized less often and less likely to need public assistance. Who would not want to encourage this improved behavior among both gay and heterosexual couples?

The original overriding purpose of marriage was procreation and protection of children. Wanting to establish a family is still the best reason for two people to get married. But clearly many heterosexual couples never have children and don't want to have them. Having children together was the significant difference between gay and hetero couple. When that is taken out of the equation, there is no reason to treat loving gay couples any differently than childless hetero couples.

Conservatives should embrace family values for gay people. Even on the lifestyle front, gay marriage makes sense for conservatives. Marriage discourages many of the aspects of gay life that conservatives find most objectionable, and married lifestyles are much safer. A monogamous couple, gay or straight, has almost zero chance of contracting AIDS or any other sexually transmitted disease.

Politically, gay marriage is also a conservative win. Married people are much more likely to vote Republican. In the last election, only 35% of single women voted for George Bush. But among married women, Bush won 54%. The percentage was even higher among men and among married women with children.

So why are liberals in favor of all this? Many liberals oppose conservative policies to promote marriage and support alternative families were marriage is often not part of the mix.

This is really an example of both sides being on the wrong side, or maybe not. Maybe liberals are just right on this one.

As a conservative, I am troubled that so many of my colleagues, whose opinions I respect on most other things, are on the wrong side of this issue. Not only is it in our best interest as conservatives and Americans to support gay marriage, it is also the moral thing to do. If marriage brings greater happiness, economic success and better heath, how can we deny our fellow human beings this opportunity we cherish for ourselves? It is something we should think about on the birthday of Jesus.

Posted by Jack at December 25, 2004 12:56 AM