January 24, 2005

Conservatives and Gay Marriage

The Analphilosopher claims:

"No conservative can support homosexual marriage."

He further elaborates:

This morning I received a letter from a man who challenged my claim (here)
that "No conservative can support homosexual 'marriage.'" He said I shouldn't make such absolute statements. Why not? Compare the following:

No liberal can support slavery.
No libertarian can support progressive taxation.
No Christian can support (or condone) adultery.
No feminist can support exclusion of women from the professions.
No Marxist can support private property.

Conservatives can disagree about many things.

The nature of marriage is not one of them.

Methinks the Analphilosopher is mistaken.

The term "conservative" has become rather loose today. The general guideline that conservatives desire less government intervention and liberals more has become blurred. In KBJ's defense, he generally uses a narrowed, more precise definition of conservative than the one in common use. In KBJ's taxonomy, a conservative tends to give presumptive value to tradition.

I assume this is what he means when he states that "no conservative can support homosexual marriage." Since there has been no tradition of gay unions, the argument goes, one ought not to tamper lightly with the venerable institution.

But perhaps other conservatives would place more weight on other traditions. Perhaps some conservatives might favor individual liberty when said liberty does not harm others. Other conservatives might value the tradition of small government, and wish to avoid government intervention in our private lives.

Analphilosopher obviously gives greater weight to the tradition of marriage as a child-rearing institution. Leaving aside the concept that gays perhaps ought to be allowed to rear children (children who will be universally wanted children since special arrangements for adoption or insemination will be required), his statement that anyone who varies from this orthodoxy cannot be considered a conservative smacks of hypocrisy.

KBJ has taken a rather extreme stance on animal rights, casting the universal tradition of omnivorism lightly aside. His position on the moral claims of animals places him well outside tradition and the American mainstream.

One might state:

No conservative can support the moral claims of animals.

In KBJ's defense, I don't recall him ever advocating the advancement of his animal rights agenda through federal legislation, which would be an undeniably liberal proposition. My take is that he hopes to convince the vast majority of Americans that our moral reasoning about animal rights is flawed, leading to the recognition of animal rights through persuasion.


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