Conservatives have always been at the forefront of civil rights: abolishing slavery, desegregation, and women’s suffrage. Democrats were in favor of each of these assaults on individual freedom and fought hard to keep them in place. The Democrats of today cannot claim to be the historic pioneers of the emancipation of slaves, nor of women’s rights: their entire history is devoid of the pursuit or defense of freedom. So in recent years, Democrats have hijacked traditionally conservative values and achievements, specifically “civil rights” and “freedom.” This was not only to gain more power and influence among the populace, but to cloak one cause in particular – gay marriage.  This has led conservatives to believe gay marriage is a conservative cause because it promotes freedom.  This has also led Americans to believe that gay rights are akin to civil rights by conflating the black struggle during the civil rights movement to the homosexual’s struggle for gay marriage.

Only, the civil rights struggle and the “struggle” for gay marriage are incomparable, and gay marriage does NOT promote freedom.

Conservatives believe that individuals should be free to pursue happiness without government intrusion into their private lives and as long as they do not infringe upon the freedoms and rights of others.  We could then conclude this to be a perfect reason as to why conservatives should jump on the ‘gay marriage’ band-wagon.  After all, homosexuals (are we even allowed to use that word anymore?) desire just as much to be happy as anyone else and marriage – a voluntary contract between two parties – hardly infringes upon the freedoms and rights of other people. This argument has prompted over 100 Republican politicians to sign a “Gay Marriage” brief seeking to have gay marriage protected under The U.S. Constitution and so be nationally recognized.  Conservatives are slowly buying into the lie that if we do not change our stances on issues such as gay marriage, the Republican Party as we know it will slip into oblivion, never to recover again.

Even if we were to grant that in the name of freedom, gay marriage should be protected under the constitution, would conservative individuals like pastors and business owners retain their freedom to deny service to homosexual couples under the First Amendment?  If the answer is no, then providing an increase in freedom for a protected minority group while denying a natural freedom to individuals would not be a conservative cause; that is liberalism.  If the answer is yes, then homosexuals will not have gained anything that has not already been guaranteed to them through common law partnerships or civil unions… and so, why would we as traditional conservatives fight for it?

The confusion stems mainly from a lack of public understanding or caring as to why The US Constitution exists. We’ve heard many on the left scoff at the desire to protect the right to own semi-automatic weapons on the basis of defending against possible tyrannical governments when the Constitution, and by extension the Second Amendment, exists to protect against that very thing! The Constitution protects us from government tyranny. It does not protect your rights from someone else; the U.S. Criminal Code does that.

If “gay marriage” was protected under the Constitution, it would simply prevent government, government officials, and government services from discriminating against or refusing to recognize gay marriage and couples.  It would not prevent a church pastor, a private party, from refusing to marry them.  It would not prevent a bakery, a private business, from refusing to make their wedding cake.  The inclusion of gay marriage into the Constitution would not prevent any of these things unless government were to also limit the individual’s Constitutional rights…

…Maybe by claiming that gay marriage is a “Civil Right?”

Definitely!

It is now clear why militant homosexuals are so bent on co-opting the “civil right” label for their own cause.  They understand that the inclusion of gay marriage into the Constitution is socially meaningless without also having a form of legal protection against discrimination.  They place so much emphasis on government involvement in the redefinition of marriage because they want government intervention on their behalf, uncaring as to the rights of others that may be infringed upon in the process.  It is a wonder why conservatives in favor of “gay marriage” cannot grasp this.

To make the “inclusion” of gay marriage more palatable to Americans, what is better than to liken homosexuality to the minority group at the center of the Civil Rights movement: blacks?  This comparison also fails on closer inspection.

The fundamental reason for discrimination against blacks did not involve who they were having sex with or any other behavior; it was the color of their skin.  To compare one’s sexual orientation — a preference — to  the motive behind the persecution blacks faced up until the 1960’s — immutable physical characteristics — is to undermine the Civil Rights Movement as a whole.  Blacks were enslaved, lynched, whipped, and hunted down by vicious dogs, to list just a few of their past adversities.  What adversities that are even remotely comparable to the struggles of blacks do homosexuals as individuals or couples face today that would require them to acquire a protected status?

Yes, it is true that individual homosexuals might experience persecution for their sexuality, but homosexuals did not experience government-sanctioned persecution as a whole. There is a great difference between government-sanctioned persecution and a heinous act a private citizen commits against another. The civil rights act was reactionary to an entire culture of racism that often resulted in violence and dehumanization of blacks as well as denying them Constitutional rights. The persecution of homosexuals every now and then and over the course of several decades by specific individuals is absolutely incomparable, because they are isolated cases.

There are still black men who are beaten to a bloody pulp for being black. In an incident two years ago, a man was deliberately killed. Likewise, there are white men who are beaten for being white; and after the Trayvon Martin case, which drew national attention, we saw a lot of cases where whites were targeted by blacks out of vengeance for the death of Trayvon.  There are and might always be individuals who hate and abuse homosexuals just as there are people who hate and abuse blacks or whites.

A few months ago, our TCC colleague composed an article titled “Exclusion Does Not Equal Discrimination.”  That title is applicable here as well.  Single individuals are not entitled to marital benefits because they are not married.  Polyamorous individuals are not entitled to marital benefits because marriage is between two parties.  Likewise, homosexual individuals are not entitled to marriage because marriage is between a man and a woman.  In each scenario the party is excluded, and neither party is licensed to change the definition of marriage simply because they don’t like being excluded.  The definitions of those words exclude by nature.

Gay marriage would not only dilute our language, but dilute conservative history and most importantly, dilute American freedoms. The attempt by some conservatives and notable Republicans to adopt gay marriage as a conservative cause is entirely self-defeating.  Conservatism is about protecting freedoms and limiting government, but legally enforcing “gay rights” will require an increase of government control in our private lives.

Atarah Golden | Cecil College | @AtarahGolden

Avey Owyns | University of Windsor (Ontario) | @AveyOwyns