Many of my fellow conservatives have an almost knee-jerk hostility toward gay marriage. This does not make sense, because same-sex unions promote the values conservatives prize. Marriage is one of the basic building blocks of our neighborhoods and our nation. At its best, it is a stable bond between two individuals who work to create a loving household and a social and economic partnership. We encourage couples to marry because the commitments they make to one another provide benefits not only to themselves but also to their families and communities. Marriage requires thinking beyond one's own needs. It transforms two individuals into a union based on shared aspirations, and in doing so establishes a formal investment in the well-being of society. The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance. Conservatives should celebrate this, rather than lament it.
Theodore Olsen's wrote his heartfelt and moving op-ed making the Conservative Case for Gay Marriage earlier this year as he was preparing along with David Boies to argue the case against the California ban on gay marriage that had been approved by the voters with the passage of Proposition 8. The op-ed is, of course, a testament that many conservatives do recognize the gross injustice against gays and lesbians in denying them the civil right to marriage. As Mr. Olsen noted then "legalizing same-sex marriage would also be a recognition of basic American principles, and would represent the culmination of our nation's commitment to equal rights." Unfortunately, a large number on the right still do not yet concur with that view.
With US District Court Judge Vaughn Walker's historic ruling in the Perry et al v. Schwarzenegger et al that the ban on gay marriage violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, it's clear that very few conservatives are celebrating the landmark decision and many are doing much more than just lamenting it. The right's reaction has ranged from incredulity and disbelief to anger and outright hate peppered with the obligatory doses about judicial tyranny.
Randy Thomasson, the head of the Campaign for Children and Families and of an outfit called Save California, blasted Judge Walker for having "trampled the written Constitution, grossly misused his authority and imposed his own agenda, which the Constitution does not allow" in a statement.
Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council, compared the decision to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion. "This lawsuit, should it be upheld on appeal and in the Supreme Court, would become the 'Roe v. Wade' of same-sex 'marriage,' " said Perkins. Perkins feared the ruling would overturn marriage bans adopted by dozens of states if it is upheld, a sentiment echoed by others on the religious right.
Perkins told CNN that he will work to make the ruling an issue in this Fall's midterm elections. "This is the age of the Tea Party, where you have people saying government is not listening," Perkins told CNN. "And here you have a judge saying seven million people (who supported California's Proposition 8 ) don't matter."
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), who is out on his cross country bus tour in the defense of traditional marriage was incredulous and left gasping for words until it came time to beg for more money in order to fight the appeal.
Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy and a columnist for various conservative publications, called the decision "outrageous" and "an extraordinary moment." Gallagher told right wing radio talk show host Lars Larson, "here you have an openly gay judge, you can read the Constitution and you cannot find in it any endorsement of the idea, our Founding Fathers created no rights to gay marriage." She added that the decision was "intellectually absurd" and that "what we're seeing is an outrageous exercise in judicial tyranny." She noted that the decision "will mean that gay marriage advocates will use our Constitution to impose gay marriage on all of us whether we like it or not" — a somewhat ironic choice of words echoing San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's prophesy several years back.