Not even a month after the election and Republicans are peering over the same slippery slope that led to their 2012 demise: Stances on social issues. In a now rather infamous interview with GQ magazine, Senator and 2016 Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio offered ambiguous responses on a range of topics, perpetuating his already questionable views on the age of the earth. Since those remarks, Rubio has backtracked to a more “scientifically-sympathetic” view that God created the universe with however many moons science lays claim to. Yet his view on the age of the earth is only the tip of the iceberg.
In that same interview, Rubio offered his opinion on gay marriage, an equally hot button issue in today’s society. When asked to respond to the view of many young Republicans that believe the G.O.P. should stop putting social issues like homosexuality in the media, Rubio took a defensive route in asserting that, “there are a very significant number of Americans that feel strongly about the issue… of marriage and are we saying that they should be silenced or not allowed to speak or voice their opinion?”
Rubio asserts that the opposition to gay marriage should not be silenced, suggesting that gay marriage supporters are somehow accomplishing that. I can’t imagine the last time the opposition was considered oppressed in this argument; nor the last time they were not “allowed to voice their opinion.” Ignorant comments like these continue to alienate people from accepting the G.O.P. In trying to appear objective (or sympathetic to both sides), Rubio ignores actuality and, in turn, offers his unsolicited personal opinion.
The issue might seem unprecedented, but it is simply an issue of civil rights— a fight that has existed throughout time: Slavery, universal suffrage, 1960’s Civil Rights movement, Title IX, the list goes on. Imagine that we take Rubio’s “objective” view on gay marriage in any other context— perhaps in one of the aforementioned situations.
In a time when women were not allowed to vote (amazingly less than a century ago), the rationale followed the antiquated philosophies of past times. If we listened to the “significant number of Americans that [felt] strongly of the issue” of yesteryear, we could reference the misogynistic ideas of past revered philosophers. Perhaps we should listen to Schopenhauer who asserted that the “woman is not intended for great mental labour” or that they have a “weaker reasoning power.” Maybe Neitzsche was correct in saying that “when a woman has scholarly inclinations, there must be something wrong with her sexuality.” These statements seem ludicrous nowadays, especially considering a woman nearly ran on a Presidential ticket only four years ago.
What about the issue of slavery— Should the “very significant number of Americans that felt strongly about the issue” have not been questioned for the sake of objectivity? Under that logic, plantations would litter the States and we would still be an agrarian society. America would be no closer to equality than our current lack of liberation.
Nevertheless, there’s still one missing link: The morality. This theory posits that gay marriage would ruin the sanctity of marriage, that opening the door to gay marriage would open the door to acceptance of incest, rape and the like. I’m not here to change your moral beliefs because everyone is entitled to a different opinion; however, I will propose a scenario that should be agreeable for everyone: Simply, don’t make it a moral issue.
That is not to say marriage is amoral, but rather take the religious connotation out of the equation. Instead of allowing homosexuals the “right” to a civil union, allow everyone the right to a civil union. Discard the religious undertones of marriage, and instead make it a legal contract. After all, that is the only difference between being “together” and being “married,” isn’t it? If a couple chooses to implicate religion in their ceremony, allow them to, but do not push people to it. If it’s simply a legal issue, then there is no conflict with religious doctrine (remember, we are not a theocracy).
Though this may sound revolutionary, we would not be the first to enact such a law. In fact, the only European countries to impose the same ban on gay marriage as the United States are former Soviet Satellites. Moreover, the decriminalization of gay marriage is a current prerequisite to joining the European Union. It is indubitably time to join the rest of the Western World and remove the religiose basis from our laws.
In any case, the most worrisome aspect of the interview was not what Rubio said, but the way that he said it. You are rightfully confused because it was the same Republican game: Chiming in on controversial remarks in unprovoked conflicts. The interviewer never asked Rubio about these issues, yet he chose to bring up these same topics that polarize Republicans from the mainstream. He spoke about the issue of life and marriage when the interviewer simply reflected on the new generation’s shifting indifference to former social norms. Why, then, would Rubio go out of his way to defend the right to life and his opposition to gay marriage? It was an unnecessary battle to fight, and gaffes like these must stop if Republicans hope to have a chance in 2016.
It’s time to reject the 21st century incarnation of the white man’s burden who takes it upon himself to cleanse the needy or “misguided.” It’s not the only solution, but it’s one solution. Let us not single out one nation invisible, and allow our guaranteed constitutional right to liberty and justice for all. That doesn’t silence anyone. As Rubio himself concluded, “there’s a way to do that that is respectful and productive. There are things we’ll always disagree on, but it doesn’t mean we… divide our country over them. We agree to disagree…” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Edited for non-substantive grammar and brevity of title on December 13, 2012.