Same-sex marriage is one of the most hotly debated issues of the day, right behind the NSA snooping through a person’s sappy love letter emails and ridiculous smartphone selfies. There are folks on the political and religious Right, who say that a Constitutional amendment needs to be passed that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman only. On the opposite side of the aisle, the Left say that a same-sex marriage ban violates natural law, and want (whether they admit it or not) to force everyone to accept the homosexual lifestyle, including making churches officiate weddings, even though this violates their religious rights and free speech. Both parties are wrong to a certain extent.
The truth of the matter is, and social conservatives will hate to hear this, the government has no business in marriage at all, whether it is a homosexual union or a heterosexual one. The right to choose a partner and be in a relationship is a natural right, or law, that is deeply ingrained in human nature. Since this is an individual right, it is up to the person, and them only, to decide who they want to spend their life with. No government can strip that right away and tell someone who they can or cannot be with and to do so is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
If one carefully reads through the Constitution, it becomes apparent rather quickly that the ability to regulate marriage is not one of the powers granted to the federal government. Any power not specifically listed in the Constitution, is then left up to the states, so at the very least, same-sex marriage should be decided by the people of each individual state, not at the federal level. This in and of itself would be a huge step forward, as it is much easier to affect political change at the state and local level. However, if the country truly wants to remain a beacon of liberty, then people will realize that a same-sex marriage ban, even at the state level, still violates natural law.
Believe it or not, there is a solution that will provide protection for a homosexual couple’s right to get married, while also protecting religious groups from being persecuted for their disapproval of the gay lifestyle. The answer is making marriage a voluntary contract. Marriage is a choice between two consenting adults, who have decided to live together and build a family unit. This union is viewed as two parties entering into a voluntary contract with one another, and the only role government plays in the ordeal is to recognize the validity of the contract. If the two parties should decide to terminate the contract, the government could help settle disputes if necessary, but that would be as far as the interference goes. In order to make this happen, the benefits that most people enjoy from the government for being married must be stripped away, meaning no tax exemptions or credits for either homosexual or heterosexual couples. The government must get out of marriage altogether for things to be equal. Taking this route preserves the natural right of all people to choose their own partner, regardless of sexual orientation.
This kind of voluntary contract system also preserves the rights of religious groups to choose not to recognize same-sex marriage at the cultural level, and would not force them to officiate services or ceremonies unless they voluntarily chose to do so. The government would have no say in the matter. When a solution to a problem is presented that protects the rights of both parties involved, it is usually the right course of action.
Social conservatives need to realize that this issue is going to make or break their chances of getting a candidate in the White House in 2016. Young people are very passionate about gay rights, and it is time to stop trying to force a standard of morality on others for actions that do not hurt others or pick their pockets, as Thomas Jefferson stated so eloquently. One can still be opposed to something on a personal and cultural level. In fact, focusing on the cultural aspects of an issue could lead to powerful change in the lives of Americans, without having the government intrude and take away their freedoms. If the Republican Party is serious about winning the presidential election in 2016, they are going to have to admit that a same-sex marriage ban violates natural law, and that the government needs to get out of the bedroom.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell