This is what the GOP might look like when the culture wars finally end.
Republicans in Massachusetts have openly backed same sex marriage, joining an amicus brief filed by former RNC Chair and Bush Administration official Ken Mehlman.
Almost all of the party’s major figures in Massachusetts have signed the brief including new Governor Charlie Baker. Also signing the brief are Maine Senator Susan Collins and Republican donor David Koch.
The brief makes the conservative case for same sex marriage rights, citing a laundry list of favorite conservative cases and authors. This quote from Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative is particularly biting:
“The Conservative is the first to understand that the practice of freedom requires the establishment of order: it is impossible for one man to be free if another is able to deny him the exercise of his freedom. … He knows that the utmost vigilance and care are required to keep political power within its proper bounds.”
A few other excepts:
The governmental bans at is-issue here rest on similarly ungrounded, archaic, and obsolete beliefs—however sincerely, strongly, or long held—and thus the Fourteenth Amendment requires recognition of the bans’ invalidity.
This Court has repeatedly made clear that although legislators and voters may generally exercise power over certain subjects—including many contentious social issues—the government’s power is limited when it comes to injurious incursions upon the freedom of minorities.
No one at any point in this decades-long debate has been able to describe any credible harm that might rise from same sex marriage. Cut through all the bullshit, and the argument against same sex marriage is absolutely singular – “my religious convictions dictate that homosexuality is wrong.” That’s it.
People are asking the government to discriminate against homosexual couples on the basis of sectarian religious beliefs. There is absolutely no defense for that practice under our Constitution.
When same sex marriage is finally settled law in this country, religious people will remain free to hold their beliefs about the sinfulness of gay couples. They will lose their ability to use those beliefs to constrain the basic Civil Rights of other people. We all have a right to our religious beliefs. No one has a right to legislate their religious beliefs.
This isn’t a dispute about religious freedom. This is a dispute about cultural supremacy. That’s why the last, most bitter holdouts against gay marriage are the same institutions, people and states who were the last bitter holdouts against the Civil Rights movement.
Gay marriage is likely to destroy something, but it’s not marriage. The fight over gay marriage is going to severely damage the lingering cultural supremacy once enjoyed by white Protestants.
We are on the cusp of experiencing real pluralism for the first time in the country. That’s why same sex marriage matters and that’s why the battle lines are drawn across the same boundaries as in the Civil Rights movement.
Massachusetts Republicans are recognizing, a little late, what most of the rest of the country has already come to terms with. If the party at large has the good sense to drop this issue then a lot of future harm can be avoided.
The full text of the conservative amicus brief in favor of same sex marriage can be found here.
About the Author: Chris Ladd is a Texan who is now living in the Chicago area. He is the founder of Building a Better GOP and has served for several years as a Republican Precinct Committeeman in DuPage County, IL, and was active in state and local Republican campaigns in Texas for many years.