Christianity, Libertarianism and Gay Marriage

13Jun12

Ever since President Obama announced he was personally in favor of gay marriage, I have been challenged by social conservative friends to explain how I can be a Christian and, as a libertarian, believe gay marriage shouldn’t be outlawed or be made legal. My ideas have been called “very dangerous because they lead to decay,” “charging against windmills…when there are dragons to be fought” and “letting the culture of the country decay.”

 It’s an extremely touchy subject and I appreciate my friends’ willingness to challenge me on the subject.

 I want to tackle this in two parts: the constitutionality of it and then the religious side of it.

 The answer can be found in the 10th amendment of the Bill of Rights.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

 Since the decision regarding marriage isn’t left up to the federal government, it is up to the individual states to decide on issues such as this. If a state chooses to allow gay marriage, it is their choice. If they decide to outlaw it, it is their choice as well.

 Under the 10th amendment, social conservatives can lobby either their state legislators or the other voters to outlaw gay marriage. Most states have done that. Since the Constitution doesn’t give the federal government authority on marriage it is an issue for the states. If a state legislature approves a bill that appears to be against the will of the people, petitions can be circulated in hopes of getting the issue on the ballot. That way, the registered voters can decide whether an issue is allowed or not. States like California, Colorado, North Carolina and Texas have done so. Other states, like Washington, are considering a potential ban on gay marriage. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has also said he wants voters to decide on gay marriage. I have no problem with this at all.

 Another important part of the Constitution is the First Amendment, which says:

 Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 In other words, Christianity is welcome in the U.S. but so is deism, atheism, Islam, Mormonism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Wiccan, Paganism, etc. People are allowed to freely engage in religions, as long as all state laws are followed.

 The First Amendment has been used to point out there won’t be a “state church.” While this is true, the First Amendment more importantly means the federal government cannot tell the church what do to or how to operate. Marriage is a church issue. This is why the federal government getting involved in gay marriage is unconstitutional.

 I’ve argued before that government should get out of the marriage business entirely and leave it up to the individuals to decide. This might be an archaic view of marriage, but I’ve seen it as an agreement between two Christians and God. Or, for non-believers, an agreement between two people. If the government wants to keep a list of marriages and divorces that’s fine.

 The point of all this is simple: As a Christian, I understand and agree with social conservatives on gay marriage. However, in looking at the Constitution it is obvious gay marriage isn’t a federal issue. It is a states’ issue and should be decided there.

Addendum: Special thanks to Leah from Misfit Politics and Chad Kent for their help on constitutional law and grammar.



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