On Sunday, Rand Paul presented his view of same-sex “marriage.” It’s just fine as a matter of contract between two people, and he’s still willing to use the term “marriage” to describe it.
“I see no reason why, if the marriage contract conveys certain things, that if you want to marry another woman, that you can do that and have a contract. But the thing is, is the religious connotation of marriage that has been going on for thousands of years, I still want to preserve that.
"You probably could have both. You could have both traditional marriage, which I believe in, and then you could also have the neutrality of the law that allows people to have contracts with another." (Emphasis mine.)
This highlights Paul’s fundamental dilemma: he wants to be both a libertarian and a conservative on marriage, but it’s impossible. Everyone must choose.
A strict libertarian view of “marriage” is that there really should be no such thing. Folks ought to have the freedom to wander in and out of relationships as they please and call them whatever they want along the way. That, of course, is not liberty at all but sexual anarchy which leaves abandoned partners and vulnerable children shredded without mercy.
This sober reality may be why Paul wants to limit the damage somewhat by using a “contract” as a form of restraint.
But the fundamental, inescapable problem from a socially conservative standpoint is that such a contract still gives state-sanctioned approval to conduct which is immoral, unnatural and unhealthy. This is something no sane society should do.
We would not legitimize any other form of contract which binds people together to do morally unlawful things. For instance, a “contract” entered into by two members of the mafia to split up a numbers racket would be immoral and unenforceable and useless as a defense in court.
More to the point, the second highest risk factor for HIV/AIDS (after men-having-sex-with-men) is intravenous drug use. Rand Paul’s formula is exactly like saying injection drug abuse is legal and permissible and A-OK as long as two people shoot each other up by contract. No, the behavior itself is the problem, and no rational society should ever give its official sanction or recognition to behavior that destroys those who indulge in it.
The conservative view of marriage, on the other hand, is quite simple and straightforward. There is such a thing, it has been created and designed by God, it is the union of one man and one woman, and it is the sole legitimate relationship for sexual expression. Period.
The same-sex “marriages” Paul envisions would be pseudo-marriages, not even pale imitations of the real thing. Sen. Paul has achieved the remarkable unhappy medium of leaving everybody disappointed and confused. He offers no one enough to satisfy them, and offers everyone enough to agitate them. It’s a non-starter as a form of public policy, it’s difficult to explain, and it’s not going to persuade social conservatives to support him.
Like the Israelites of Elijah’s day, Rand Paul is “limping between two opinions.” It didn’t work then and it won’t work today. On marriage, those of us on the right side of the political spectrum must choose between a libertarian view and a conservative view. By landing squarely in no-man’s land, Rand Paul has chosen poorly.