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Right-Wingers Call Marriage Equality A “Totalitarian” Expansion Of State Power

July 12, 2011 12:16 pm ET by Carlos Maza

Opponents of marriage equality are starting to realize that their monopoly on the Republican Party is slipping away. In New York, for example, wealthy, libertarian-leaning Republican donors played a major role in convincing four on-the-fence Senate Republicans to cross party lines and endorse marriage equality.

One of those major GOP donors, Clifford S. Asness said his decision to endorse marriage equality was in line with basic conservative ideas of limited government:

I’m a pretty straight-down-the-line small-government guy. This is an issue of basic freedom.

Asness isn’t alone in his position. A number of other prominent conservatives have also noted the strong liberty-based case for allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. 

This increase in support for marriage equality among libertarian-leaning Republicans has anti-gay zealots worried. 

In response, they’ve launched a truly stunning campaign of Orwellian doublespeak: They're now arguing that allowing loving, committed gay and lesbian couples the right to marry is actually an expansion of government control.

Right-Wing Talking Point: Marriage Equality Is A “Government Takeover” Of Marriage

Maggie Gallagher, chairwoman of the National Organization for Marriage, writing for USA TODAY:

Gay people are perfectly capable of entering into loving, committed caretaking unions. That does not justify government involvement or coercion of third parties to recognize these non-marital relationships as marriages.

Gay marriage is not an increase in liberty; it is a government takeover of an institution that government did not create and should not redefine.

When the government endorses a lie about human nature, there will be consequences. [emphasis added]

Star Parker, writing in the Washington Examiner:

But these latest efforts of Singer and his colleagues undermine that mission and aspirations toward keeping this a free nation with limited government.

Why? Their willingness to dismiss the meaning and relevance of a pillar of traditional values -- marriage -- makes clear that in no way do they see our free nation rooted in God-given truths.

They must opt, then, for the only other alternative. Human design. They'll decide what is relevant and not, what is true and false.

So despite talk about freedom, they share an awful lot of common ground with socialists. They think they're clever enough to understand the whole world and design how we should live. They depart from socialists in their formula, not in their approach. [emphasis added]

George Weigel, Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, writing for the National Review Online:

“Gay marriage” in fact represents a vast expansion of state power: In this instance, the state of New York is declaring that it has the competence to redefine a basic human institution in order to satisfy the demands of an interest group looking for the kind of social acceptance that putatively comes from legal recognition. But as Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York and others argued during the days before the fateful vote on June 24, the state of New York does not have such competence, and the assertion that it does casts an ominous shadow over the future. For if the state in fact has the competence, or authority, to declare that Adam and Steve, or Eve and Evelyn, are married, and has the related authority to compel others to recognize such marriages as the equivalent of what we have known as marriage for millennia, then why stop at marriage between two men or two women? 


The task of a just state is to recognize and support this older, prior social institution; it is not to attempt its redefinition. To do the latter involves indulging the totalitarian temptation that lurks within all modern states: the temptation to remanufacture reality. The American civil-rights movement was a call to recognize moral reality; the call for gay marriage is a call to reinvent reality to fit an agenda of personal willfulness. The gay-marriage movement is thus not the heir of the civil-rights movement; it is the heir of Bull Connor and others who tried to impose their false idea of moral reality on others by coercive state power.

George Weigel, writing again for the National Review Online:

And that brings us to the totalitarian temptation. As analysts running the gamut from Hannah Arendt to Leszek Kolakowski understood, modern totalitarian systems were, at bottom, attempts to remake reality by redefining reality and remaking human beings in the process. Coercive state power was essential to this process, because reality doesn’t yield easily to remaking, and neither do people. In the lands Communism tried to remake, the human instinct for justice — justice that is rooted in reality rather than ephemeral opinion — was too strong to change the way tastemakers change fashions in the arts. Men and women had to be coerced into accepting, however sullenly, the Communist New Order, which was a new metaphysical, epistemological, and moral order — a New Order of reality, a new set of “truths,” and a new way of living “in harmony with society,” as late-bureaucratic Communist claptrap had it. 

The 21st-century state’s attempt to redefine marriage is just such an attempt to redefine reality — in this case, a reality that existed before the state, for marriage as the union of a man and a woman ordered to mutual love and procreation is a human reality that existed before the state. And a just state is obliged to recognize, not redefine, it. [emphasis added]

Archbishop Timothy Dolan, writing on the Archdiocese of New York blog:

But, really, shouldn’t we be more upset – and worried – about this perilous presumption of the state to re-invent the very definition of an undeniable truth – one man, one woman, united in lifelong love and fidelity, hoping for children – that has served as the very cornerstone of civilization and culture from the start?

Last time I consulted an atlas, it is clear we are living in New York, in the United States of America – not in China or North Korea.  In those countries, government presumes daily to “redefine” rights, relationships, values, and natural law.  There, communiqués from the government can dictate the size of families, who lives and who dies, and what the very definition of “family” and “marriage” means. [emphasis added]

Right-Wing Talking Point: Marriage Equality Collapses Families And Increases Government Dependency

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, writing for

White flags and "round toits" are unacceptable on the fundamental social issues of life -- marriage, family and religious liberty. There is no room in the political parlor for those courting values voters if they are ambivalent about the sanctity of human life, and the bedrock institution of the natural family, an institution that is grounded in marriage between one man and one woman, and their capacity to transmit life to the next generation.

The right candidate will understand that big government doesn't just happen. Big government and budget deficits are in part the natural outcome of government policies that foster a deficit of character.

Big government is what happens when family life fractures, when mothers avoid marriage, and fathers flee responsibility. The right candidate will understand that when the family decreases, government increases. Simply put, this candidate will recognize the fact that when the natural family is looked down upon -- we will be forced to look up to big government. [emphasis added]

Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council, writing for the Times Union:

The breakdown of the traditional family leads inevitably to expansion of government. The best bulwark against a large centralized government is the existence of mediating social institutions which allow society to govern itself. Chief among these is the natural family, consisting of husband, wife and their own children. People living in this family structure are the least likely to become burdens upon society through dependency on government social programs or through crime and incarceration.

Libertarians should not allow themselves to be misled and manipulated by a movement which is actually at odds with the liberties Americans hold dear. [emphasis added]

Tom Pritchard, president of the Minnesota Family Council, speaking for the Minnesota Family Minute:

[I]f homosexual marriage is established in the law, it will send confusing messages to the public. We’ll no longer be encouraging a man and a woman to stay together and raise their children. We’ll be subsidizing alternative lifestyles and further reinforcing the message that marriage isn’t about a lifelong bond between a man and a woman and raising children. That will mean greater marital breakdown. As Morse notes, disputes that could be settled by custom will have to be settled in court. Taxpayers must provide support that normally should be provided by a stable family. Standards of good conduct that could be enforced informally must be enforced by law. That’s all a recipe for big government. When the family breaks down, the government grows. Homosexual marriage will usher in bigger government. If you don't want big government, you better support traditional marriage. [emphasis added]

Right-Wing Talking Point: Marriage Equality Invites The Government Into Our Bedrooms

Stella Morabito, writing for the Washington Examiner:

A repeal of DOMA could well prove to be one of the biggest dominoes ever to fall in favor of bigger government.

By providing a simple formula for defining parental responsibilities and rights, DOMA serves as an effective buffer between oppressive state power and individual freedom of association.

If we don’t preserve DOMA, government easily expands into that vacuum. A new body of myriad and complex laws and regulations likely would draw government into our personal relationships, starting – but not ending -- with the core family. [emphasis added]

Peter Sprigg, again writing for the Times Union:

Here are some key reasons why a libertarian outlook does not require support for same-sex "marriage":

1. Marriage is not a privacy issue. Civil marriage is a public institution. Homosexual activists once demanded that the government stay out of their bedrooms. In attempting to legalize same-sex marriage, they are now inviting the government into their bedrooms. [emphasis added]

None of these new talking points make even a shred of sense to anybody who isn’t already vehemently opposed to marriage equality. Opponents of same-sex marriage are obviously getting desperate and resorting to some truly ridiculous arguments.

If these anti-gay zealots can – with a straight face – claim that giving gays and lesbian couples the right to marry is an expansion of government power, what’s next? Will they try to claim that gay marriage is actually bad for gay people?

Justin Raimondo, writing for The American Conservative:

The imposition of a legal framework on the intricate web of relationships that have previously existed in the realm of freedom—that is, outside the law and entirely dependent on the trust and compliance of the individuals involved—would not only be a setback for liberty but a disaster for those it supposedly benefits: gay people themselves.



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