published Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Martin: GOP missing the mark on marriage equality

David Martin

Though the Republican Party enjoys a stranglehold on Tennessee politics, it has been interesting to watch the national GOP come to the collective realization that a growing number of Americans are entirely disinterested in making the party their political home.

Since the 2012 elections the question, "How do we stay relevant?" has been one that right-wing thinkers have grappled with. Most have offered suggestions about ways to "rebrand" or "restructure messaging" to help spur Republican wins in upcoming elections. The Republican Party can do all the repackaging it wants -- but without good policy, there is no amount of image-polishing the party can do to make today's GOP more palatable.

Historians may one day look back at 2013 as a legislative watershed year in the United States. From the halls of Congress to the Supreme Court bench, decisions have been made that will set the precedent for how we live -- and what rights are enjoyed by which people -- for generations to come.

This is also a monumental time for the Party of Lincoln, for in the midst of such incredible national decision-making, the Republican Party is simultaneously being forced to look inward and wrestle with questions of self-identity. Less pertinent, then, are questions about relevance, and more important are questions addressing inconsistencies between present-day party platform and core philosophical party principles.

The historical underpinnings of the Republican Party are, in my opinion, an extremely attractive set of political beliefs. Low taxes, limited government, and a fierce protection and celebration of individual rights have an appeal that transcends generational, racial, and socioeconomic boundaries. So, the image problem the Republican Party is experiencing today is not so much about marketing as it is about the misguided pursuit of flawed policy by party leaders.

The most glaring inconsistency between principle and policy is the unwillingness of the GOP to abandon its obstructionist posture, prohibiting the passage of marriage equality legislation. Most Republicans fail to grasp that being "for" or "against" same-sex marriage misses the mark entirely. What this issue boils down to is that government should have no authority to interject itself into the marriage business at all. If the national GOP was serious about individual rights and limited government, the consensus opinion adopted into the official party platform would be that folks should be able to marry whomever they choose, regardless of gender. Personal opinion and individual rights are mutually exclusive -- yes, even when it comes to gay marriage.

To acknowledge the constitutional rights homosexuals should be able to enjoy does not necessarily mean everyone has to like the idea of marriage equality. The same constitution that grants gay rights also affords people the right to oppose gay marriage on religious grounds or feel it is an abomination to the "natural order." Whatever. What that constitution does not do, though, is give certain people the authority to enact discriminatory policies against any other people. And this is where the Republican Party is finding trouble nowadays. Blatant hypocrisy is a tough thing to sell. If the party wants to be taken seriously as defenders and promoters of small government principles, their rhetoric needs to match their voting record.

In a political world that is primarily concerned with winning the next round of elections, the rarest of birds are those who consider the long run. Sure, every election is important. But, without a wholesale return to fundamental individualist principles, the Republican Party will continue to find it increasingly difficult to compete in years to come. Good policy trumps slick packaging any day, and dismantling one of the last bastions of state-sanctioned discrimination is a great place to start.

For his work in the nonprofit sector and on area political campaigns, David Martin was the recipient of the 2013 "Civic Impact Award" by the Young Professionals Association of Chattanooga. He is also a recent graduate of Leadership Chattanooga.

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aae1049 said...

This comment is not about marriage equality, it is about having a left and right side of the newspaper with polar perspectives. TFP you are the haters of conservative perspectives, and have managed to create a left liberal and a right liberal side of the paper. Good luck sinking ship. So now we get, left and right Clay Bennett.

August 13, 2013 at 12:39 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

The right uses social issues and misplaced outrage to distract attention away from their shifting power to corporations. Perhaps Drew was guilty of improper behavior, but he expressed libertarian ideas that shifted focus back to where it needed to be. Our problems in this country are economic, not social, and allowing gays to have the same benefits from marriage as straights does not affect anyone else's rights.

August 13, 2013 at 7:50 a.m.
Facts said...

This paper is creating its own demise. Rather than appeal to its market, it's trying to utilize a business model for a market that is more liberal and a younger demographic.

Unless the folks at Chattanooga Publishing have a secret formula, they are attempting to appeal to a market that does not exist for print media in rhis region currently.

So, rather than sell to a defined market with features to expand its market, the editors/owners are misdirected in force-feeding material that's unwanted.

If you don't know your market, you fail. But at least these "professionals" will be progressive and chic while doing it.

So, the determined effort to sell gay marriage is a losing feature if you want to maintain a predicatable buying market. But, that's apparently not what the Times-Free Press wants.

Check with Coca-Cola and the "New Coke." Losing their base was not in their best interests. Hence, Classic Coke returned.

August 13, 2013 at 9:38 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

As long as the Republican party is ruled by war-hawk neo-cons and Christian Bible Thumpers it will continue to decline. Let the McCains, Rubios, and Grahams bury each other before they bury us through their love of empire, military corporatism, and religious fanaticism.

August 13, 2013 at 11:55 a.m.
MyGen said...

My take on the author's writing is that his single issue is gay marriage to determine where he makes his "political home" which is not different from those who are bound by their faith to oppose gay marriage in choosing a political home.

It's the state that permits a legal arrangement, but it's actually the church that performs the rite, not "right" of marriage.

But I do agree with "FACTS" on the assertion that the paper is losing its way. I read the paper to get more than just an opinion and a small variation on that opinion on the other side. I love having the left and right both represented. Today, there's no difference.

August 13, 2013 at 1:40 p.m.
Ozzy87 said...

Religion has nothing to do with civil marriage. Marriage can be a religious ritual, but it's not a requirement. When the preacher (or whatever term they call themselves) says "By the power vested in me by the state of (blank)" they are recognizing that without the state's authority their ceremony is legally worthless. Or do you consider couples married by a Justice Of the Peace not married?

August 14, 2013 at 2:17 a.m.
fairmon said...

There would be no issue if there were not such blatant discrimination against singles with over 1100 legislated advantages to marriage and shifting of cost to those that prefer to remain unmarried. All a state marriage license does is make the participation in the discrimination against those not married legal.

August 16, 2013 at 12:49 a.m.
fairmon said...

lkeithlu said...

Our problems in this country are economic, not social, and allowing gays to have the same benefits from marriage as straights does not affect anyone else's rights.

The push by gays to be legally married is for economic reasons. Social security, employer benefits cost, healthcare premiums and myriad other items, reported to be around 1100, that reduces the revenue that has to be recovered from some place. That is typically from those that prefer the freedom of being single and not owning a home. Why is a home loan interest deductible? Why are there headings on the tax tables for married, single, married filing separately, head of household. Of course the majority are married so politicians show that segment of society favor for their votes. At least gays can't spawn a house full of kids I have to help educate. Surely you are not so naïve as to think that gay marriage is strictly a social issue.

August 16, 2013 at 12:57 a.m.
hotdiggity said...

Republicans have traditionally supported "a fierce protection and celebration of individual rights"??

Sure enough, as long as you are a white conservative male.

An individuals gay rights? Civil rights? Women's rights? Abortion rights? Rights of an individual to unionize?

Oh yeah, Republicans have been a bastion of support for "individual rights"

August 16, 2013 at 12:57 a.m.
fairmon said...

Gay marriage, abortion and other issues both parties get involved in are not federal government issues. The federal government is so big already it is unmanageable with both parties stepping all over and around the constitution to usurp states rights.

August 16, 2013 at 1:02 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

The right is not opposing gay marriage for economic reasons, fairmon. The reason for my post is that they use it as a source of outrage to get conservatives to vote GOP, rather than presenting viable economic policies.

August 16, 2013 at 7:02 a.m.
fairmon said...

lkeithlu said...

The right is not opposing gay marriage for economic reasons, fairmon

1keithlu....both parties want to impose their personal beliefs on the populace without addressing the underlying economic root cause.

August 17, 2013 at 7:02 a.m.
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