DOMA, the Supreme Court and Individual Freedom

supreme court

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.

Author: TONY CAMPBELL, Columnist

8 Comments

  1. You almost had me until I got to the gratuitous liberal bashing. According to conservatives, everyone would be millionaires if not for liberal programs keeping them down.

  2. Thanks, TC. IMHO, about half correct (whoops, almost said “right”), and we all know that social programs never inhibit most individuals from driving and striving; it is only that pesky few that are mooches. :-)

  3. For the record, I am against same sex marriages (for reasons of personal belief).

    I don’t understand what this means. I say that in entire earnest. Of course a personal belief can lead to a moral standing on a political position. For example: people who hold the personal belief that a zygote is a full person can use that belief to justify an abortion ban, but not without connecting the dots that killing a person is bad. But what is that connector here? Your personal belief can’t just be that gay marriage is bad. You’d need connecting moral standings on things like: (a) being gay is bad, and (b) bad people shouldn’t be allowed to be married. Murder is bad, but we allow murderers to get married. Or you can make the connection by just simply saying that everyone should be forced to have the same personal beliefs as you do, which, if enacted, would mean that no gay couple would want to get married, since they share the personal belief that gay marriage shouldn’t exist. Or perhaps it’s because of God, in which case you’d need to connect the dots by saying that our laws should be based on the Christian Bible. There are probably other ways to get there that I’m not thinking of.

    I’m just very curious about the logic that starts with a personal belief and ends up with policy. The dots are easy to connect in some cases, but not so easy in this case. Personal beliefs are by definition personal and not public policy. I don’t believe in God. By the logic in the quote from the OP, that means that I should want there to be laws that worshipping God doesn’t exist. I don’t believe that, because I don’t belief that my personal beliefs should be de facto enforced as law. So, what’s the connection, what is the personal belief that says that there shouldn’t be gay marriage?

  4. For the record, I am against same sex marriages (for reasons of personal belief).

    I am assuming you are against gay marriage because you are straight and therefore do not need to support gay marriage personally.

    So let me ask you this. Do you expect people to be “for” something because it affects them personally and against something if it does not affect them? Using marriage as an example… do you think gay people should be “against” straight marriage because they themselves are gay and do not need to support straight marriage?

    For the record…. I don’t know anyone against straight marriage. Even gays who have no personal need for straight marriage still wholly support straight marriage.

    It seems to me you’re saying that you’re against gay marriage but because you are for individual freedom you are somehow forced (by your own beliefs!) to allow gays to marry. I suppose that would classify you as tolerant towards gay marriage, but not welcoming of it.

    It’s an interesting position and I have to ask myself if I hold similar positions (where my desire for freedom and liberty (or something else) conflict with my personal opinions) toward anything or anyone.

    One example that comes to my mind is if I believe someone is guilty of something but they are found not guilty by a jury, or they “get off” on a technicality or their sentence is minor…. Even though I personally believe one thing (such as their guilt), I have to trust the justice system and jury to reach the best possible verdict. I can’t take the law into my own hands and become a vigilante, extracting justice from those who I think should be punished more severally. So that’s one personal example where my personal opinion might conflict with another value (the rule of law). I don’t like the court’s decision but I have to “tolerate” it because of my belief in the US being a land with law-abiding citizens.

    So it seems as though you’re against gay marriage personally but you hold your nose and tolerate it because of the value you place on individual freedom.

    I hope one day that people will see gay marriage as “normal” as straight marriage and not have conflicting values over it.

  5. Tony, it sounds like you are speaking of libertarianism more than conservatism. Conservatism balances the value of individual freedom against the stability of established social institutions, and it accepts a role for government in promoting/enforcing “good” social behavior.

  6. Social conservatives see this as a defeat of traditional marriage and I agree with their assessment of the court’s decision.

    I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this concept, and for the life of me, I can’t.

    Is it your belief that once gay marriage is made legal across the land, “traditional” marriage will cease to exist? Are you saying that young heterosexual couples will, when deciding their future, opt out of marriage for no other reason than the fact that “the gays” can enter into the same social contract?

    And when the heterosexual couples currently married find themselves on the business end of a divorce, do you really think their primary reason for swearing off a second (or third, or fourth) marriage will be that “the gays” have ruined it for them?

    Or when a husband or wife has to bury their significant other due to a terrible accident, or war, or disease, are you suggesting that they will hold off on a new life with a new marriage because “the gays” can partake of a similar sacrament?

    Will “traditional” marriage really stop? Really?

  7. Bravo cjjack… I think you just closed (read shut down) the opposition’s argument.

    What the hell is wrong with people?

  8. The author reads a book that he believes was authored by his God… the books says gay = death, so gay is bad. There is no logic. none. No free thought. He has been told. He will believe.

    I will complement the author for his ability to separate religious belief from legislation. His brethren do not have the same capacity.

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