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What Rand Paul and the GOP Still Don’t Get About Gay Marriage

What Rand Paul and the GOP Still Don’t Get About Gay Marriage

Rand Paul has dared to suggest the GOP should back off on social issues and “agree to disagree” within its ranks, but while Rand Paul might sound like he’s appealing to the more moderate wing of the Republican party, he’s shown he still doesn’t get the gay marriage issue — and that is a problem.

In an interview with Vocacitve, US Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) discussed a variety of topics including his views on Ted Cruz and his often derisive crusades, the future of the Republican movement and more. He also touched on the issue of same-sex marriage and how he as a Libertarian views the issue.

Asked by Vocacitve if he believes the Republican party should “stay out” of social issues like gay marriage, he responded:

I think that the Republican Party, in order to get bigger, will have to agree to disagree on social issues. The Republican Party is not going to give up on having quite a few people who do believe in traditional marriage. But the Republican Party also has to find a place for young people and others who don’t want to be festooned by those issues.

Vocacitive followed that up with a challenge: if Rand Paul believes in the so-called sovereignty of the individual how can he then say that gay marriage should be a state issue? Paul attempted to explain why this isn’t a contradiction:

On issues that are very contentious, that involve social mores—I think that allowing different parts of the country to make their decision based on the local mores and culture is a good idea. But when it comes to taxes and benefits, the [federal] government out [sic] to take a neutral position—a way where marriage wouldn’t have an effect, positive or negative, on those things.

This might sound perfectly reasonable. Yet, as Paul is hotly tipped to be the favorite for the 2016 Republican presidential race, we really have to examine what it is he is saying here, and it quickly becomes apparent that Paul and libertarians like him just don’t get it.

If under the US Constitution there is a constitutional right for heterosexuals to marry, there is also a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry unless there is an overriding government interest for discriminating in this fashion. That’s been the basis of arguments made before the federal courts and those against gay marriage have yet to offer any credible reason against allowing same-sex couples that right — simply because there isn’t one.

Fundamental rights should not and cannot be left to the whims of individual states precisely because they are fundamental rights. This is currently the reality in America and it does cognizable harm to same-sex couples on a daily basis. We have same-sex couples who fear having their children could be taken away because they cannot jointly adopt due to the way states use marriage to confer parental rights no matter the federal definition of marriage; we have couples who are discriminated against in how states give survivorship rights and face massive tax disparities despite federal tax law now recognizing same-sex couples; and we have same-sex couples who can’t even divorce because the state in which they live doesn’t recognize them as married in the first place.

Given that Rand Paul is doing everything he can to ensure he clings on to power, including changing the rules in Kentucky so that he can run as both a senator and a presidential nominee, his approach here is important and the fact that he has decided to compromise his so called libertarian value of personal responsibility and freedom in order to apparently pander to the anti-gay marriage crowd within the Republican Party is disappointing. It also won’t work because it doesn’t give either the pro equality side or their opponents the answers they need to offer their support.

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Photo credit: Gage Skidmore.

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83 comments

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2:23PM PDT on Mar 29, 2014

I should probably take Rand Paul more seriously, but it is so hard for me to do that.

12:44PM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

Martha F.,

Fair enough. Americans United for Separation of Church and State quoted a conservative Christian admitting if "God's purpose" is removed from the argument, there's no reason to limit marriage to one man and one woman. But conservatives have a point when they ask if we legalize same-sex marriages, what's to stop us from legalizing incest and/or polygamy?

In 1995, when I was traveling with activists, protesting the Republicans "Contract ON America," I said I had no problem with civil unions. This was Jimmy Carter's position a decade ago.

In 2004, my friend Dave Browning (1959 - 2007), a conservative, pro-life Republican, opposed same-sex marriages, saying marriage (an institution that has lasted thousands of years) should not be redefined in the name of political correctness. When I asked Dave about civil unions, however, he didn't object! The beautiful Teddi Ivey of Berkeley Pro-Life didn't object to "domestic partnerships" either.

In 2004, I told my friend Greg, who is gay, that I don't object to same-sex marriages, either... as long as religious institutions aren't forced to recognize them. In 2004, Sean Hannity warned viewers about a future in which churches refusing to recognize same-sex marriages lose their tax-exempt status. Greg dismissed Sean Hannity's words as right-wing propaganda.

8:07AM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

Vasu! Please keep your religious beliefs to yourself. This is not a discussion of beliefs but of equal rights under the law.

8:06AM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

If under the US Constitution there is a constitutional right for heterosexuals to marry, there is also a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry unless there is an overriding government interest for discriminating in this fashion. That’s been the basis of arguments made before the federal courts and those against gay marriage have yet to offer any credible reason against allowing same-sex couples that right — simply because there isn’t one.

I realize this is off topic however I have a huge issue with "the government's overriding interest" of our lives at which point it seems it thinks it has the right to interfere. This is reflected not only in gay marriage but the right to die and, I am sure, many other area. It is so wrong in so many ways.

4:29AM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

thank you for posting

6:02PM PDT on Mar 21, 2014

Bull!

10:29PM PDT on Mar 20, 2014

Oh, come on, now.
They get it.
They get it quite well, but feel they must go along with the Teapublicans, if they want to get nominated.

7:37AM PDT on Mar 20, 2014

Actually Steve, it's you who doesn't understand Libertarianism and the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

10:29PM PDT on Mar 19, 2014

cont:

As for the human's ability to deal with things that are different, do those whining "unnatural!" also insist people NOT be allowed to wear glasses, hearing aids and dentures? Do you insist on walking around naked, as clothes certainly aren't something you're born into. You put them on. Do you insist animals at the zoo wear pants?

Come on troll-boys. Your idiocy is reeking pretty bad & to say your arguments fail, is an epic understatement.

Oh & a hint about the religion bit. If you think it's ok for you to enforce your religious views on others, do you remain silent & accepting when others foist theirs ON YOU? Somehow I doubt it.

So like your penis, keep your religion PRIVATE. That's just GOOD MANNERS. Something you should REALLY look at trying some time!

10:25PM PDT on Mar 19, 2014

A few points for the reading impaired and "slow" students then...

1) religion is irrelevant. Marriage is a LEGAL CONTRACT. It has NO religious requirements whatsoever. In short, it matters not one whit if you whip out your quran, bible, talmud, instructions for holy hand grenades or what have you. It's 100% irrelevant. As atheists can & do get married to, there's more than ample PROOF that religion is NOT what marriage is about.

In short, start treating your religions like penises. DO NOT whip them out in public, DO NOT shove them down the throats of the unwilling and keep them the hell away from children!

2) Denying same sex marriage by claiming anyone is welcome to enter into a heterosexual relationship, is stupidity personified. It's an abrogation of both common sense and intelligence, period. By saying that a LEGAL CONTRACT must be between only opposite sex couples, belies the notion that a LEGAL CONTRACT is between 2 PEOPLE, REGARDLESS of their genders.

3) Natural versus unnatural. Again a 100% facetious argument as humans are doing what they do, and as what they do is part of nature, it IS natural. Same sex relationships exist in THOUSANDS of species OTHER than humans, therefore the argument that it's somehow wrong, is in fact the only UNNATURAL point of view there is in this regard. As for the human's ability to deal with things that are different, do those whining "unnatural!" also insist people NOT be allowed to wear glasses, hearing aids a

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