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.