I have some news for you:  It is very possible to support the right to marriage equality without supporting gay marriage.  This sounds like a paradox.  But if you can support the right to free speech without supporting Hilary Rosen’s comments on Ann Romney – or if you can support the right to bear arms without supporting some guy keeping his AK-47 in his toddler’s nursery – or if you can support the freedom of assembly without supporting the huge mobs of people showing up at Justin Bieber concerts – then you, my friend, know how to support someone’s rights even if you don’t like the way they are used.  We may be morally appalled by Rosen’s comments, guns near kids, and shrieking Beliebers – but we’re not going to outlaw them.  It is my hope that we, as a society, can carry on this great American tradition of defending rights even when we don’t like how they’re used, and apply it to the issue of the day – gay marriage.  You might not like the way some people use their right to marry, but I believe the 14th amendment compels us to defend that right.

Recently, homosexual marriage has come up for a vote in several states. This country voted on gay marriage, way back in 1868, when the states ratified the Fourteenth Amendment. It states:  “No state shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Many conservatives are arguing that a ban on gay marriage does not violate the Equal Protection Clause: Straight people can marry other people of the opposite sex.  Gay and lesbian people can also marry people of the opposite sex. Seems like sound logic. Except, it would lead to straight people having the right to marry who they want and homosexual people still without the right to marry who they want.

Let’s say that opponents of marriage equality are right – for this thought experiment, we’ll assume that being homosexual is a choice and a morally wrong one at that.  It is still not within the government’s purview to prevent people from being immoral, so long as their immorality doesn’t harm another person. Are there laws against sitting in your attic and drinking an entire bottle of gin?  No.  Only when you harm another person can your action be called a crime.  I don’t see government as a moral force, mostly because I’m not really into taking life advice from an organization that’s 16 trillion dollars in debt.  

When President Obama made a statement to ABC News declaring his support for gay marriage, he used first-person pronouns (like “I” and “me”) a total of eight times in fifty-seven seconds.  He talked about the constitution zero times.  He mentioned the law once – specifically, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell – which is no longer really a law at all, since it’s been repealed.  That totals to zero mentions of the law, and eight mentions of himself.  It’s fine that Obama thinks that being gay is a-okay, but it would be much better for the country if he had come to that conclusion based on the first and fourteenth amendments, and not on personal anecdotal evidence.

Here’s a picture of what won’t happen when marriage equality is achieved. Image Credit: The Oatmeal

I believe that marriage is first and foremost a religious institution.  I was taught that marriage is a covenant that two people make with each other and with God.  You know who can make rules about who can enter into religious covenants?  Religious institutions!  If you want to know who you can marry – ask your priest, your rabbi, your pastor, your Imam, your cousin who took that online quiz and is now a “universal life minister.”  For the government to tell religious groups what marriage is – is a violation of the first amendment.  There could be constructed a First Church of Sassy Gay Friends, and it could declare homosexual couples married, and the government could not overrule what the religious institution has decided, no matter how morally appalling other people may think those marriages are.

Can we just agree to get government out of the marriage business?  Since when does a promise two people make to each other require government permission?  A religious leader “pronounces you husband and wife.”  Doesn’t a need to file documents and get licenses from the government violate the separation of church and state?  (What’s next, a license to have kids together?  A license to have a roommate?)  And while we’re at it, we ought to get rid of the “marriage penalty” – higher taxes for married couples.  To make people pay more just because they’re married is not only a violation of separation of church and state (again), but it’s anti-family, anti-marriage tax policy.  The family is the smallest unit of government, and it works well.  Small governments – like the ones we become when we lead households – don’t need permission, much less “help,” from big government.

If we are going to outlaw everything that the majority of Americans finds morally wrong – we better get ready for a much bigger government.  I am confident that Americans know how to live their lives without a government telling them what to do.   You know what’s worse than being nannied by Big Government?  Being the government’s leash kid.  

"No, Timmy, you can't go play in the sandbox with Jimmy, because you don't have a government-approved license for it."

Personally, I think we ought to let show tunes ring from sea to shining sea foam green pillow shams.  You might see things differently from me, and that’s okay!  It’s more than okay, under the law – it’s your right.  I will defend your right to disagree with me – but we have ten whole amendments that are meant to prevent us from codifying those disagreements into law.  The true conservative position on this issue is one of strict constitutionalism – which means that LGBT Americans ought to have the same rights as the rest of us, whether or not we approve of how they’ll exercise those rights.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”  – Aristotle

Angela Morabito | Georgetown University | @_AngelaMorabito