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Should social conservatives push for the government to stop regulating marriage?
Could Glenn Beck help shift America’s debate over gay marriage?
In a Dec. 6 video on Blaze TV (embedded below) Beck, a convert to Mormonism, spoke with magician and atheist author Penn Jillette for a discussion framed around their shared libertarianism. The seemingly odd couple–one a social liberal, the other a religious conservative– came to a consensus on the idea of the government getting out of the marriage business.
“Let me take the pro-gay marriage people and the religious people. I believe that there is a connecting dot there that nobody is looking at, and that’s the Constitution,” Beck said.
“The question isn’t, ‘Should gay people be married or not,’ the question is, ‘Why is the government involved in our marriage?’” Beck added in the clip. “We can solve the whole [debate] with just more freedom.”
Warning that even if there were consensus on the privatization of marriage, Beck said that he believes that some gay marriage advocates would be unwilling to carve out religious exceptions to protect the conscience rights of those opposed to gay marriage. Their “agenda is to shut down my freedom of speech and my belief,” he said.
Beck, a convert to Mormonism, has worn both tea party and social conservative hats — on the one hand by helping forge the fiscally-minded, small government movement, and on the other, by calling for a national religious revival.
Is it possible that the controversial conservative is offering an constructive new approach to the public debate over the definition of marriage — now headed to the Supreme Court –that social conservatives can back? (Blogger Rod Dreher wrote Tuesday that he thought Beck was naive to imagine that the government would be able to untangle an entire legal system from marriage and that Beck underestimated the religious freedom issues at play.) Or is sheer politics forcing conservatives to find a new way to address what now seems to be a losing issue?
Beck continued to appeal to those on the right to back him on his approach to marriage: “We just need libertarians and people on the right to understand you are a libertarian constitutionalist first. You’re not a Republican. You are a constitutionalist, “ he said.
“What we need to do, I think, as people who believe in the Constitution, is to start looking for allies that believe in the Constitution and expand our own horizons. We would have the ultimate big tent because the only ones that wouldn’t be allowed in the tent would be the people that don’t believe in the Constitution.”