Some libertarians are applauding the recent Supreme Court decisions relating to same-sex marriage, not because of anything to do with the Constitution, limited government, federalism, individual liberty, the proper role of government, or separating marriage from the state, but because they just happen to like the idea of same-sex marriage. As I have argued elsewhere, they are entitled to their opinion, but there is no libertarian “position” on same-sex marriage.
On Tuesday, March 26, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for and against California’s Proposition 8, a ballot initiative passed in 2008 that eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry that the California Supreme Court had recognized.
On Wednesday, March 27, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the merits and demerits of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), federal legislation passed in 1996 that defined marriage as only “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” and that permits states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the section of DOMA that defined marriage (sec. 3) was unconstitutional, thus ending the ban on same-sex married couples being recognized as married and eligible to receive federal benefits. The Court also let stand a 2010 federal district court ruling that declared Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional.
Conservatives who believe in traditional marriage and consider the term “same-sex marriage” to be an oxymoron are disturbed by the Supreme Court’s rulings. This is not generally because they find fault with any legal or constitutional arguments, but because the Court did not, in their eyes, rule in favor of traditional marriage—legal and constitutional arguments be damned.
But conservatives are also disturbed by what they see as libertarian support for same-sex marriage. This is not generally because they find fault with any arguments about individual liberty and the proper role of government, but because libertarians are not, in their eyes, upholding traditional marriage—philosophical arguments be damned.