Opinion: Criticism of Social Conservatism

Opinion: Criticism of Social Conservatism

Benjamin Nguyen

Throughout the early 21st century we’ve seen social policy and social movements revive in relation to policies and social phenomenons.  Among these huge social policies are LGBTQ+ rights.  Following the Obergefell v. Hodges decision by the United States Supreme Court in 2015, marriage equality in the United States has been at the forefront of present social issues in the United States.

To accurately portray the gay rights movement over the years, let’s go over the history that is imperative to understand it.  Gay rights grew particularly in the late 1960s to the 1980s.  It was called the Gay Liberation Movement which widely rose to combat the stigma of being ashamed and feeling the need to hide one’s sexual preference.  It encouraged “coming out” and living openly and freely as a gay man or lesbian woman.  The movement took flight with the Stonewall Riots in New York, in 1969, prompting direct protests by the gay community.

Now, as happens in American politics, parties take sides and in such a manner democrats took the pro-LGBTQ rights stance while Republicans have taken the traditional marriage stance.  To understand the republican platform it’s important to note that while foreign, economic, and military policy rests on what people believe works and doesn’t, social policy comes from morality. As for social policy, Republicans rest on religion. Specifically, they rest on Christianity.  Here’s where the road gets bumpy.

In the United States, there is no government-sponsored religion. It’s guaranteed by the First Amendment that an American citizen has the freedom of religion and to practice such openly and without discrimination. With that said, the issue comes apparent that if there is no government-sponsored religion, why would a political party force religiously motivated beliefs on others?  Isn’t that unconstitutional?  It’s complicated.

You cannot declare someone’s reasoning “unconstitutional” if it comes from a religious basis and doesn’t violate the Constitution directly.  Religion does equal bias but then again, laws come from morals and morals come from a clear right and wrong which is endowed to our conscience and that conscience is subject to religious beliefs (or non-religious beliefs).

I argue that the federal government does not have a right to legislate one’s emotions or union in marriage.  Avoiding religion for the basis of this argument I present the Republican party platform to justify my belief.  Republicans have strongly been in favor, since the 80’s and the political flip this nation experienced, for limited government. 

The Reagan Administration for example echoed the Republican call for deregulation.  While the limited government has more commonly been associated with taxation, states’ rights, and business, I argue it can and should be applied to social issues, and in this case, gay rights.

Politically, I believe that limited government, as defined, means less government.  Less government trickling down into the daily lives of Americans.  I believe that the basic job of a government is to provide for the public welfare, manage the economy, and provide defense for the nation.  The details I believe are up to the states and thus, the people.  Therefore I would apply limited government to gay marriage. 

Allowing same-sex marriage is not a violation of somebody else’s religious beliefs.  If I don’t like something, I shouldn’t force it on someone else, especially when either way it doesn’t harm either of us.  Therefore I believe that standing in the way of gay rights, simply because you don’t like it or prefer/understand it, is not valid.

The government should not have the right to weigh into the marriages of individuals or dictate to people what their preferences can be.  For one, the issue is so down to earth it shouldn’t be a government issue or focus.  Secondly, our Founding Fathers wanted this government small, so imagine their surprise that their government, 247 years later, is arguing about whether or not people have the freedom to love.  The government has no such right.  I would argue that the 9th Amendment protects such rights. 

The Ninth Amendment states “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” 

In simple terms, there are rights not mentioned in the US Constitution that American citizens have.  The right to wear the color purple, the right to wear hats indoors, or sunglasses in winter, essentially, just because of its omittance from the Constitution, doesn’t make it illegal.  Therefore, among the long list of non-enumerated rights, I argue that the right to love whomever and the right to pursue love and thus, pursue happiness, is constitutionally protected and unequivocally legal.