Last week, the Colorado Supreme Court decreed that the legal qualification for “common-law marriages” can now apply to same-sex couples, even though the U.S. Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges only took place in 2015.
And guess what: I didn’t hear a peep from Colorado Republicans about it
Maybe I missed something, but I’m pretty plugged into conservative circles and yet didn’t see a word. Maybe there wasn’t one?
Truthfully, and contrary to the narrative perpetuated by liberals and the media, most Republicans — particularly in Colorado — just don’t care about this issue as a matter of public policy anymore. When I attend center-right events (at least, when we’re allowed to hold such events), gay marriage just isn’t a topic of conversation. It is pure myth that the GOP gets together on the regular and ponders, “How can we strip away rights from gay people?”
In all practical reality that even fervent social conservatives must admit, Obergefell is never going to be overturned. Gay marriage is here to stay. Secondly, the tide of public opinion has sharply turned in recent years. A 2020 Gallup survey found that effectively half of Republicans nationally — 49% — favor legal gay marriage; 83% of Democrats and 71% of independents likewise support it.
This is especially so among younger Republicans, who frequently have gay and lesbian friends and may have married same-sex couples who are in their friend groups. There is an attitude among most of us that how consenting adults choose to live their lives doesn’t matter so long as they are not impinging upon the rights of others. In that case, government should just stay out of the way and let people participate. There is also growing acceptance of same-sex adoption by those of us who recognize, at a minimum, it is better for children to be raised in a home with two loving parents than to grow up in a single-parent household.
Speaking personally as a millennial, I would bake a gay wedding cake. If invited to a friend’s same-sex wedding ceremony, I’d go and wish them lifelong happiness. I have no trouble believing my friends who know Gov. Jared Polis and his partner Marlon Reis when they say they’re good parents, like so many other gay and lesbian couples. I don’t see why I wouldn’t do any of those things.
Freedom, however, goes both ways. Even though I’d do those things myself, that doesn’t mean others should be forced to agree and abide. If someone has a religious objection to gay marriage, they should be able to hold and express that view (and they ought to do so respectfully).
Similarly, churches should not be forced to perform or recognize same-sex marriage or to let a gay couple adopt children if they oppose it. Moreover, businesses like cakeshops and photographers should not be forced to participate in a marriage ceremony due to religious objections, especially when there are plenty of alternatives right down the street. In all three cases, these protections are guaranteed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The Republican Party is not anti-LGBTQ. Nor is it about obstructing the rights and freedoms of those in the LGBTQ community. Gay marriage and gay adoption aren’t going anywhere, and that’s just fine. Republicans are also necessarily accepting this fact, and the nonexistent griping over last week’s common law marriage decision is a case-in-point.
At the same time, individual liberty and the Constitution likewise dictate that people should be free to abide their moral viewpoints and decide whether to participate or say something, or to decline. It’s just part and parcel of what it means to be a free society: Let me do my thing, I’ll let you do yours, and let’s not harm each other or use the threat of force.
Moving forward, Republicans ought to highlight this new reality and push back against the false narrative.