Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) announced her support for gay marriage this morning and her full statement on why is well worth a read.
The statement is forceful, arguing that marriage equality is needed to protect personal freedom and stop the government from overreaching.
This is the key paragraph (emphasis added):
First, this is a personal liberty issue and has to do with the most important personal decision that any human makes. I believe that, as Americans, our freedoms come from God and not government, and include the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What could be more important to the pursuit of happiness than the right to choose your spouse without asking a Washington politician for permission? If there is one belief that unifies most Alaskans – our true north – it is less government and more freedom. We don’t want the government in our pockets or our bedrooms; we certainly don’t need it in our families.
Murkowski goes on to say that allowing gays into marriage will make it a stronger institution that does more to promote family stability. That’s a common refrain from Republicans who support gay marriage, and a relatively safe way to argue for gay marriage without declaring war on social conservatism.
But in making the “liberty” argument, and saying we don’t need the government in families, Murkowski is making a much bolder argument, and going for a big break with social conservatives. Murkowski is siding with those who argue that marriage should be an institution that exists for the benefit of individuals, to be used to form the kinds of families they see fit.
Social conservatives tend to argue that marriage is a civic institution that should be used to promote the formation of a specific kind of family. That is, they think we do need the government in our families.
I think Murkowski’s individualist approach is right. But it’s going to be a major point of contention between her and social conservatives in the Republican party.
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