Traditional marriage conservatives: Moderate, reasonable and right

John Guardiano Freelance Writer
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Did you know that “conservatives [are] split on [the] Proposition 8 ruling”? No? Neither did I. Silly me. I thought most conservatives were outraged that a district court had upended thousands of years of common law tradition that defines marriage as a union between a man and woman.

I thought most of us were outraged by the judge’s suggestion that support for traditional marriage has no rational basis and is akin to racial bigotry. But alas, I don’t know what the FrumForum’s Jeb Golinkin knows.

Golinkin, you see, knows better. He knows, as does that noted political philosopher, Margaret Hoover, that:

Libertarian conservatives who prize individual liberty and freedom will applaud it [the district court decision, while] social conservatives will resent it.

So there you have it: The forces of liberty, enlightenment and progress support this raw assertion of judicial power, and closed-minded social conservative bigots oppose it.

In fact, this liberal fairy tale is nonsense. Even most libertarian conservatives who support so-called gay marriage are appalled at Judge Vaughn Walker’s unconstitutional usurpation of legislative power.

FrumForum’s own Alex Knepper, for instance, recognizes that the people’s elected representatives, and not unelected judges, have the right — and, indeed, the responsibility — to define marriage.

Indeed, if liberty means anything, it means that the people have the right to self-determination and self-rule. It means that the right to define marriage is and always has been an inherently legislative, and not judicial, responsibility.

But Golinkin knows better. He knows that most social and cultural conservatives are liars and opportunists. They don’t really believe what they write and say. They feign outrage over “gay marriage” because they think this scores them political points.

It apparently never occurred to Golinkin that his political opponents — those dreaded “social [and cultural] conservatives” — might be honorable men and women with sincerely held beliefs. It apparently never occurred to him that people can support traditional marriage without being social bigots and political hucksters.

Thus Golinkin takes offense at an op-ed written by Notre Dame law professor Gerard Bradley. Bradley says there is reason to believe Judge Walker had a conflict of interest that perhaps should have forced Walker to recuse himself from the case.

Bradley’s op-ed is very measured in tone and quite reasonable. He states explicitly that the neglected bias [is not] related to the fact that (as several newspapers have reported) the judge is openly gay. Because

even if [true], it does not follow that he [Walker] would be incapable of being impartial and of rendering a judgment in accord with the law in the Prop. 8 case — any more than a happily married heterosexual would necessarily be.

Instead, Bradley writes, the neglected bias in the Prop. 8 trial involves Walker’s financial interest in his own potential same-sex marriage (to a physician).

This is enough for Knepper — who is himself openly gay, and who supports “gay marriage” — to declare that Judge Walker “should have recused himself.” Bradley doesn’t go that far. The potential conflict of interest, he argues, should have been raised and addressed forthrightly before the Prop. 8 trial.

This discussion might have forced Walker to recuse himself, but perhaps not. Bradley is agnostic on that question. But that the issue was not even discussed says something damning about the media and our judicial system.

Golinin, however, doesn’t recognize any of this because he’s too busy chasing after phantom conservative ghosts who haunt his imagination. He should open his eyes and wake up.

John R. Guardiano is a writer and analyst in Arlington, Virginia. He writes and blogs for a variety of publications, including FrumForum, NewsRealBlog, the American Spectator and the Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnRGuardiano