2016 Republican Convention

RNC Platform Opposes Gay Marriage Recognition While Making Case for It

Marriage is awesome for human welfare and children, but NO GAYS.

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Lesbian family
Emily Walker / CC/SA

The 2016 Republican National Convention Party platform is out, folks, and has a lot to say. As Reason previously noted, internal efforts to try to moderate the party's platform on gay and transgender issues failed, and if anything, what is in the 2016 platform feels just even more aggressively opposed to whatever is currently being pushed within the LGBT agenda.

I would like to highlight the platform's positions on gay marriage recognition because I want to make an important point: This platform is not promoting the libertarian "get government out of marriage entirely" concept in any way, shape, or form. The platform very much wants the federal government to be involved in marriages, until federal officials do something they don't like.

On page 11, the platform has a whole short section titled "Defending Marriage Against an Activist Judiciary." The section describes the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges to mandate same-sex marriage recognition across the country as "lawless," and that it robbed "320 million Americans of their legitimate constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman." Note the strange wording on that sentence there that assumes a certain outcome (and also includes children among the number of people who would be voting, but anyway). The platform calls for the ruling to be overturned and to leave the matter to the states.

So one might think logically, consistently, this would be a platform that opposes federal involvement in policies related to marriage, wouldn't one? Federal government is currently deeply involved in policies and benefits that are connected to whether participants are married or not.

But no, the RNC platform is fine with federal involvement in marriage to extent that it validates their positions on what a marriage should be. On page 31, the platform begins a lengthy segment on "Marriage, Family, and Society." It declares "natural marriage" to be between a man and a woman, but then goes on to talk about all the important regulations and policies that should be focused on encouraging stable families:

"Its daily lessons — cooperation, patience, mutual respect, responsibility, self-reliance — are fundamental to the order and progress of our Republic. Strong families, depending upon God and one another, advance the cause of liberty by lessening the need for government in their daily lives. Conversely, as we have learned over the last five decades, the loss of faith and family life leads to greater dependence upon government. That is why Republicans formulate public policy, from taxation to education, from healthcare to welfare, with attention to the needs and strengths of the family."

It goes on a little further:

Children raised in a two-parent household tend to be physically and emotionally healthier, more likely to do well in school, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in crime or become pregnant outside of marriage. We oppose policies and laws that create a financial incentive for or encourage cohabitation. Moreover, marriage remains the greatest antidote to child poverty. The 40 percent of children who now are born outside of marriage are five times more likely to live in poverty than youngsters born and raised by a mother and father in the home. Nearly three-quarters of the $450 billion government annually spends on welfare goes to single-parent households. This is what it takes for a governmental village to raise a child, and the village is doing a tragically poor job of it.

Remarkably, after presenting all this evidence that married households are more stable and benefit children, the platform immediately pivots and declares that this is all evidence that the government should only recognize heterosexual marriages.

This makes no logical sense. This is not an argument against same-sex marriage recognition. It is the exact opposite.

When you put these two sections together, what you end up seeing is an argument that marriage should be subject to federal regulation by lawmakers, but not to federal judicial review. If the GOP wants state government control over marriage rules, it should not be calling for federal policies that are connected to marital status. Whether or not one agrees with the actual Supreme Court decisions, it is utterly absurd to demand the federal government play a role in regulating and endorsing marriages but to try to exempt it from constitutional review.