President Obama’s recent statement of support for gay marriage is a positive development. The president’s de jure power in the matter (i.e. his actual ability to make law) isn’t as important as the de facto power of the presidential bully pulpit. Said another way, it never hurts to have the most important politician in the country lend his support to something, if only to serve as a role model for others. No doubt state judges and legislators were listening.
At the same time, however, the president’s support and North Carolina’s vote on the matter are perfect examples of why issues of personal freedom shouldn’t be politicized.
It is wonderful that President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan accept gay marriage. Given the current influence of federal government, the support of a cabinet level official and both leading executives is clearly beneficial. But imagine, if you will, that a less socially accepting administration occupied the White House. Would you want them to lay all of their considerable power to bear against allowing homosexuals to marry? Of course not! By allowing this issue to be one determined by politicians, however, our freedoms are subject to the whims and particular mood of politicians. (Consider that even the current liberal president was against gay marriage until three years into his term.)
The only “opinions” that should matter should be those of the Supreme Court justices, and their “opinions” should be nothing more than a cursory reading of the Constitution, which explicitly protects freedoms of association and contract. Which is all that marriage should be construed as: consenting adults associating via terms explicitly laid out in a contract, which requires no blessing from any politician or bureaucrat.
Democrat readers, to this point, are probably following and agreeing with the argument up to now. Here is where we may diverge. What makes marriage so special? Why is the freedom to marry any more important than, say, the freedom to spend money? What makes marriage more off limits to government intervention than corporate speech? Why should the government not be able to tell me who I can marry, but it should be able to tell me what wage I’m allowed to accept for my labor?
As much as I agree with Obama on this particular issue, my friends’ Facebook and Twitter posts voicing their support for him strike me as blatantly hypocritical. They rally for a president for endorsing one type of freedom, but lay silent when he imperils so many others. Instead of cheering for a president who, like a demurring parent, finally changes their mind and thinks the kids (i.e. citizens) should be allowed to do something, we should ask a far more important question.
Why does it even matter?