The surge of public support of same-sex marriage has created a dilemma for many conservative politicians who oppose gay marriage because it violates their values, but they want to get elected.
Our question today is: What happens when values and public opinion clash?
A clash of public opinion and values is a big problem for candidates who have to appeal to a broad base for support. And so we see a lot of verbal maneuvering on the issue, as The New York Times reported yesterday.
Here’s a recent quote from presidential hopeful Marco Rubio. At first it appears to be a straightforward position, but you have to read between the lines:
“There is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage. There isn’t such a right. You have to have a ridiculous, absurd reading of the U.S. constitution to reach the conclusion that people have a right to marry someone of the same sex. There is no such constitutional right.”
Rubio is absolutely right. There is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage. But there’s also no constitutional right to marriage between a man and a woman. The Constitution is silent on the issue of marriage.
The real question is whether same-sex marriage is a constitutionally protected right. For example, does the part of the Constitution that guarantees equal protection under the law extend to same-sex marriage? About half of all Americans say yes, as I’ve discussed before on OurValues.org. About 41% say no. The remainder doesn’t have an opinion.
If your values lead you to see marriage as only between a man and a woman, then how should you behave in the public sphere?
What does one say?
Does the subject become a private matter now?
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- Same-Sex Marriage: How many same-sex couples are there?
- Same-Sex Marriage: What happens when values and public opinion clash?
- Same-Sex Marriage: Just a matter of when?
- Same-Sex Marriage: An obvious compromise solution?
- Same-Sex Marriage: Where do religious groups stand?