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Gay marriage support is the conservative stand

For as long as I have had a political identity, I have considered myself a Republican and a conservative. I’m an actual conservative, not a “fiscal conservative” or a “social conservative.” I am a well-rounded conservative, something sorely missing in today’s political arena.

True conservatives could never celebrate their own freedom while stomping on yours. If I expect you to embrace my right to wear a flag pin and belt out the national anthem at a ball game, I must embrace your right not to. I expect that in return for not being forced to worship Allah in the classroom, my local schools should not force you to worship Christ.

Government’s right to restrict your behavior should be limited to actions that threaten to harm me. If you disagree with the way I live my life and it harms you in some real way, restrict me. If I am not hurting you, live your own life and leave me to suffer the consequences of my actions.

That is how I view the debate over gay marriage. I support traditional marriage. That’s why I have one. To me, my right to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman ends in my own household. It is neither government’s job nor its right to enforce upon others my belief in what marriage is.

Marriage is, throughout America, established by state law. The debate over gay marriage is not a debate about God’s will. It is a debate over whether we are still willing to embrace the Constitution – all of it – even when it empowers people to do something we dislike.

The difference between religion and law is stark, but it is one that too many run over in the dash to protect their concept of marriage.

Why should we expect society to kneel before the Second Amendment when so many are so willing to ignore the 14th?

The 14th Amendment states that “No state shall make or enforce any law (that denies) to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

I was married more than 20 years ago, at the altar of a Catholic church. That is where I wanted to be married, in front of God and my family. But it was my choice to weave faith into what is at its core a civil exercise of merging two lives. The truth is that weddings take place in churches. Marriages take place in a filing cabinet in your county courthouse.

Churches have every right not to perform weddings that violate their tenets. States, however, should not have the right to ban consenting adults from a civil contract based on behavior that affects no one but the people entering into it.

Marriage is a contract into which religious meaning has been instilled. That’s probably why most weddings are performed in churches and synagogues.

But plenty of weddings take place in parks, city halls and courthouses, too. God-fearing people get married every day. So do non-believers.

Do we deny gays and lesbians the right to buy a car or sign a cellphone contract? The idea is ludicrous. But it is no more absurd than refusing consenting adults the right to legally merge their lives based solely on whom they choose to love.

Yet it’s done every day. And it’s time to stop.

John McGauley is the Allen County recorder. He wrote this for The Journal Gazette.