Same-sex marriage: A libertarian conservative case for voting ‘yes’

Same-sex marriage: A libertarian conservative case for voting ‘yes’, by Janet Albrechtsen.

If the High Court decides the upcoming same-sex marriage postal vote can go ahead this month, I will vote Yes.

Some will say that casts me as conservative charlatan, akin to finding copies of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Saturday Paper and The Monthly in my recycling bin. Such is the sad state of debate in this country.

Yet voting Yes is entirely consistent with anti-statist, libertarian and indeed conservative beliefs that the state should stay out of our personal lives. Here is the libertarian conservative case for voting Yes to same-sex marriage.

Voting “no” in response to PC bullying is perfectly understandable:

Voting No because same-sex marriage activists in politics, the media and beyond have overplayed their hand is not a position of principle. It’s a reaction rather than an answer to the broader question of whether gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry.

To be sure, a No vote is an understandable protest against the daily bullying and intimidation by the activists. If their deplorable intolerance derails a campaign premised on tolerance, this Yes voter won’t shed a tear or be surprised. Activists might want to remember that gay marriage is not a first-order issue for most people, but being told how to vote might be. Even GetUp! decided a petition to deregister a GP who appeared in the No campaign advert was reprehensible.

Why “yes” to gay marriage is sensible:

Voting Yes to same-sex marriage recognises that institutions evolve, social mores change and laws ultimately reflect those changes. Barely 20 years ago, being gay was still a crime in Tasmania. Divorce was once unthinkable and its introduction was loudly opposed by traditionalists, yet few would turn back the clock. …

As a libertarian, social change that enables more freedom for people to mark their relationship by marrying, to seek the stability that marriage can offer, ought to be recognised rather than rebuffed. Same-sex marriage will become law eventually because higher numbers of younger people support same-sex marriage than older people. …

Governments have no business policing private relationships that do no harm to others. First principles of libertarian conservatives start with John Stuart Mill’s essay On Liberty: “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” …

Tolerating the intolerant:

Saying yes to same-sex marriage isn’t a yes to rampaging political correctness either. Or illiberal curbs on free speech or doctrinaire social engineering or nanny-state interventions. Nor does it mean overlooking the intellectual inconsistency of those demanding freedom and tolerance for gays to marry but hanker for intrusive controls elsewhere, from Safe Schools dogma to workplace regulation and free-speech curbs on words that offend. Attacks on our freedom didn’t start with the same-sex marriage campaign and won’t be dealt a death blow with a No vote. …

It’s the same across the left’s cultural crusades. Marxists such as Roz Ward will keep looking for ways to socially engineer society according to her LGBTI politics regardless of the outcome of the poll. Political bureaucrats in our education system will keep trying to sneak their politics into the classroom until we expose and oppose them.

A lot of it boils down to who gets to use the good word “marriage”, or else “same-sex civil union” would be good enough.

Frame the question in terms of fulfillment, equality and freedom, and it’s an easy “yes” to gay marriage. But frame the issue in terms of reproduction, and same-sex marriage is a pernicious absurdity, cheapening  and making it harder for real marriage –so “no.”

However thousands of years of cultural evolution across multiple cultures lends a certain weight to the traditionalist view, against the sexual revolutionaries and those who would subvert the institutions that have served our society well.