As a Republican, who is socially conservative, I have been waiting in interest for today’s Supreme Court decision on DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act). The Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional because of states’ rights and 5th amendment violations. Social conservatives see this as a defeat of traditional marriage and I agree with their assessment of the court’s decision. However, as a political scientist and a student of the Constitution, I believe the court has made the correct decision.
Within the boundaries of our political liberty as a sovereign nation resides the individual freedom of the citizen. The first ten amendments to the document expresses the freedoms of citizens and the limitations of government. Basically, as long as the freedom of one individual does not encroach on the freedom of any other citizen, a citizen within the boundaries of our shared liberty can act as he or she chooses. Individual freedom and responsibility are core ideals of the Republican party and Conservatism. For the record, I am against same sex marriages (for reasons of personal belief). That being said, I believe that to ask the government to limit the freedom of the individual is misguided and has caused our party to be marginalized as bigots, homophobes and insensitive.
To use government to manipulate individual behavior on social issues is no different than when liberals use government programs to create and maintain a dependent class of people. When the left uses these programs to help people, in reality, they are limiting individual freedom by replacing the drive to succeed with the complacency of necessity.
We, as conservatives, has an obligation to advance individual freedom – in whatever form it takes within a society based upon liberty. It is more important for those ideals to be championed when the freedom in question goes against our personal beliefs.