How to Win the Pro-Gay-Marriage Vote Without Supporting Gay Marriage

Today the Supreme Court is hearing arguments on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It is expected to take two hours to hear the two sides’ arguments, but here, let me argue the conservative case in a paragraph:

Contrary to popular belief, DOMA does not ban gay marriage; it merely says that states that do not recognize gay marriage are not required to recognize the “marriages” between gay couples who come from gay-marriage states. If anything, DOMA defends the liberty of the states and thus the Tenth Amendment.

So yes, DOMA is constitutional.

What would not be constitutional is if DOMA prohibited states from allowing gay marriage, because then DOMA would actually be encroaching on the liberty of the states rather than defending it.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked of Republican strategist Karl Rove, “Can you imagine the next presidential campaign, a Republican candidate, saying flat out, ‘I am for gay marriage’?”

Rove replied, “I could.”

It is a very real possibility that, yes, America will yet again make a stupid decision, this time by nominating a Republican who can pander to gays in an unprincipled way. But let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

There is a principled way to pander, though; a way that will win the votes of those gays, and/or those liberals, who are fiscally conservative but don’t vote Republican because of their views on gay marriage. And the Republican candidate will be remaining true to conservative principles at the same time. That way is this:

Adopt the position of getting the federal government out of marriage altogether. It has no constitutional authority being involved, for one thing. The position holds that there will be no benefits handed out by the government to married couples, gay or straight, and marriage will be treated as it once was in this country: legal by private contract, not by government endorsement. Straight conservatives may enjoy the government benefits, but that is no reason to abandon the conservative principle of constitutionalism.

Of course, getting the government out of anything that it has already nosed its way into is nearly impossible, so such a policy has very little chance of ever becoming a reality. But simply holding that position–a position that allows gays to say they’re married if they want to say they’re married and yet still does not force those of us who don’t believe in gay marriage to recognize their “marriages”–will be enough for many of those who are liberal only on the social issues to support a Republican for once.

I’ve talked with people who tell me that although they disagree with me on every single area of politics, they do agree with me on this one issue. And those are hardcore leftists. So imagine those people who are fiscally conservative but refuse to vote Republican solely based on what they perceive to be the Republicans’ unfair treatment of gays. Under this proposed policy, everybody is treated equally.

It will also attract the youth vote, and they are the future of this country. It’s what might make, say, Rand Paul more attractive to them than Hillary Clinton, being that Paul has always been a small-L libertarian and Clinton only last week came out in favor of gay marriage.

So for the sake of the country, I hope Karl Rove is wrong (something he’s used to by now)–that our next Republican presidential candidate does not endorse gay marriage, but that he (or she) instead endorses the winning position—the winning position—that the government should mind its business and treat marriages as private contracts.