Conservatives and gay rights - Macleans.ca

Conservatives and gay rights

What advice the Republican party is receiving

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However much some of the party’s supporters might be uncomfortable with the Harper government’s support for gay rights internationally, it might be worth noting the discussion around the Republican party, arguably a far more conservative party in a far more conservative country.

For instance, there is the advice of political scientist Charles Murray, delivered to a conference last March.

“With gay marriage,” he went on, “I think the train has left the station.”

… But since then, Murray said, “we have acquired a number of gay and lesbian friends,” and to what he jokingly called his “dismay” as a “confident” social scientist, he learned he’d been wrong. He’d been especially influenced by the pro-gay-marriage arguments made by Jonathan Rausch, an openly gay writer for the National Journal and the Atlantic. Further, Murray said, he had discovered that the gay couples he knew with children were not just responsible parents; they were “excruciatingly responsible parents.” … What was striking was how critical he argued it is for the G.O.P. to make a similar shift as a party.

Here is how Jan van Lohuizen, pollster for George W. Bush’s re-election campaign, summarizes opinion polling and how he thinks Republicans should talk about the issue.

“As people who promote personal responsibility, family values, commitment and stability, and emphasize freedom and limited government we have to recognize that freedom means freedom for everyone.  This includes the freedom to decide how you live and to enter into relationships of your choosing, the freedom to live without excessive interference of the regulatory force of government.”

Here is Steve Schmidt, a former advisor to Mr. Bush and John McCain, announcing his commitment to an ACLU campaign to legalize same-sex marriage.

“The Republican party stands for freedom, for limited government intrusion in our personal lives and for freedom,” said Schmidt. “The issue of marriage equality is the Republican Party’s best chance to stand on the right side of history, create a meaningful legacy of fairness, and maintain relevance with young voters. I am proud to help the ACLU make all couples equal in the eyes of the law in all 50 states.”

It is not nearly a settled debate—see further discussion from Slate, the New York Times and Buzzfeed—and the discussion in the United States is still specific to same-sex marriage and the Republican party is a uniquely troubled beast, but the arguments are still applicable: to support gay rights is to be on the right side of the politics, philosophy and history of this debate.