They say demography is destiny, and in American politics destiny has belonged to those who best aligned their core beliefs with the rapidly changing and ever-improving citizenry.
Conservatives—and I count myself as one—succeed when we attract new supporters to timeless traditions. The Republican Party's loss in this month's presidential election resulted partly from a failure to embrace some of America's fastest-growing constituencies. One area of significant change is in attitudes toward legal equality for gay Americans.
Some misperceive the issue of marriage equality as exclusively progressive. Yet what could be more conservative than support for more freedom and less government? And what freedom is more basic than the right to marry the person you love? Smaller, less intrusive government surely includes an individual deciding whom to marry. Allowing civil marriage for same-sex couples will cultivate community stability, encourage fidelity and commitment, and foster family values.
Same-sex couples today lack the estate-tax protections, Social Security spousal benefits, and joint-filing options available to heterosexual couples. This can mean the difference between staying in the family home or losing it when a partner dies. In 29 states, individuals can be fired based on their sexual orientation. Conservatives believe that individuals should be judged at work based on performance, so shouldn't we fix this?