The GOP is a house divided against itself on the issue of same-sex marriage, and this rift cannot be papered over just by leaving the issue out of the platform completely. There is still just as much distrust and division that drains energy and money and people from the party.
Everyone seems to think there are only two choices: either accept gay marriage or reject any legal recognition of gay couples. But everyone has forgotten about Civil Unions, a way to fully support same-sex families and respect gay people without changing marriage or disrespecting what is unique about the union of a man and a woman.
True, the Civil Unions that were proposed in 2004 were unacceptable, because they were marriage in all but name and using a different name for he same bundle of rights was unconstitutional animus. People are entirely correct to oppose Civil Unions as they are usually defined. But if Civil Unions are defined as “marriage minus conception rights” then they are more than merely acceptable, they actually work to restore the meaning of marriage and strengthen marriage. Even the Pope has recently specified that it is “juridically equivalent” legal unions that must be opposed, which means he is saying that legal unions that are not juridically equivalent and that do not blur the meaning of marriage are acceptable to him.
We must oppose, as the party of Lincoln, the materialist view of human beings as objects that are owned and designed and manufactured. We must oppose, as Conservatives, the Transhumanist goal of “fundamentally transforming the human condition” and replacing natural sexual reproduction with genetic engineering of “better humans.” And we must oppose, as fiscally responsible small-government people, creation of human beings by any means other than joining a man and a woman’s unmodified gametes, which would require government regulation and subsidy and destroy the basis of equality and liberty, which is that we are all created equal. And we must oppose, as defenders of liberty, stripping the right to conceive offspring from marriage and replacing it with some false equivalent to use better genes than our own. We must insist that marriage continue to approve and allow the conception of offspring using the spouses own genes.
We can do those things without being perceived as anti-gay or behind the times. We can unite around Civil Unions defined as “marriage minus conception rights” and start all working together again in trust. In the end we will preserve marriage, preserve equality and dignity, and show compassion for gay people and support for same-sex headed families.
Yes, lots of people will have to change their position, indeed everyone will, since virtually no one is currently advocating for Civil Unions right now, certainly not the ones I’ve proposed. But that is a good thing, it allows everyone to save face, because no one was wrong, everyone was right, everyone will still be right about the things they were right about and thought were important. No one will need to give up any core convictions. And we will all be able to come together with our principles intact and better understood and respected.