Gay Marriage 2013: Republicans Can't Fight It and Remain Credible On "Small Government"

The Republican Party can't have it both ways: They are the party of small government, or they aren't. The government cannot be small enough to avoid interference with the markets while simultaneously remaining large enough to fine tune America's moral compass — but that's exactly what the Republican Party seems to advocate. Nowhere has this contradiction played out more obviously than when it comes to gay marriage. 

In his response article for PolicyMic last week, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said the Republican Party's focus was "championing the values of freedom and equal opportunity for all." Which freedoms, specifically? Just the economic ones? Or all freedoms? Priebus decided that this wasn't an important delineation to make. Unfortunately, the freedoms of millions of Americans hang in the balance because of that delineation.

Priebus isn't the first Republican to verbalize this contradiction unwittingly. Plenty of GOPers openly make fun of big government, while simultaneously supporting a government big enough to strap chastity belts on all of us and prevent consenting adults from living the lifestyles they choose.

For example, at CPAC 2013, Sarah Palin proudly sipped from a Big Gulp to make fun of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's big-government soda-ban, while openly supporting the federal government stepping in to ban gay marriage against the will of the states. And last year, Texas Governor Rick Perry vetoed a bill banning texting while driving, saying that he viewed the ban as "a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults," but he continues to support the micromanagement of the behavior of adults in Texas bedrooms. 

What am I missing here? Why oppose government "micromanagement" of some things like others (and, if we are talking about texting while driving, things that blatantly put others at risk) while supporting the micromanagement of personal decisions? Can someone point out the invisible policy line Republicans find themselves straddling?

Or what about Republicans who believe that government opposition to gay marriage is all about freedom? Only last week, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann put out a statement criticizing her home state for legalizing gay marriage on the grounds that such an action "denies religious liberty to people who believe in traditional marriage."

Say what? Because allowing people to enter into a legal relationship that does not involve you at all violates your religious freedoms, while denying someone a freedom based on a religious view they do not share does not violate theirs? 

The laundry list of contradictions does not sit well with millennials70% of whom believe that gays should have the right to marry.

If the GOP wants to reach our generation, they should listen to their own message on personal freedoms. They love to stand in front of crowds of college students and young professionals and say that President Obama's economic policies are failing us, and that small government is the answer to all of our problems. To that we say, great, we love small government. If only you did, too.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Jessica Huseman

Jessica wrote for Mic.com until Feb. 2014. Now she's an investigative reporter at The Teacher Project, writing articles on K12 education for Slate.com. Her work has appeared in ProPublica, The Atlantic, Slate, The Dallas Morning News and Chalkbeat and more. Find her contact info and her recent work at www.jessicalhuseman.com.

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