People Who Feel Aggrieved

7 March 2004

Liberal and Conservative Somersaults
Over Gay Marriage
by Craig J. Cantoni

The intellectual contradictions of liberals and conservatives are often hilarious, but they’ve outdone themselves with their philosophical somersaults over gay marriage.

Liberals are squawking about gays being denied rights, but as lovers of big government, they have endorsed government programs that infringe on the rights of gays. Conservatives, on the other hand, love small government but want more government when it comes to gays. Neither liberals nor conservatives seem to understand that gay rights wouldn’t be an issue and wouldn’t be plastered all over the media if the government had not made it an issue by putting its nose where it doesn’t belong.

Social Security is an example.

Gays say that Social Security discriminates against life-long gay partners by denying them the same survivor benefits that are granted to husbands and wives. But gays didn’t say that prior to 1936. They also didn’t have to run to the courts or the legislature before 1936 to get permission to bequeath their retirement savings to a gay partner.

What happened in 1936? Social Security was enacted. Since then, the government has not only forcibly taken money from gays (and heterosexuals) to fund their retirement and the retirement of strangers, but has also dictated who can receive the money upon death. Prior to 1936, gays could keep all of their retirement savings and, with a properly executed will, could bequeath the savings to another gay without anyone’s permission, without making a scene in the national media, without getting married in San Francisco, and without incurring the wrath of conservatives.

Social Security, like most government programs, takes freedom from people under the guise of giving them something. Specifically, it takes away the right of people to do what they want with a portion of their income. It then transfers the right to politicians, who respond to special-interest groups, the passions of the public and social mores. What used to be a private matter becomes a public matter and grist for politicians, judges, journalists and busybodies.

The same holds true for scores of other government programs and tax policies that favor some groups over other groups. For example, the federal tax code alone is 40,000 pages, and Medicare regulations are another 130,000 pages. These two government monstrosities in turn create millions of pages of court decisions, correspondence, forms and filings—and tens of thousands of bureaucrats to administer it all and to catch any citizen who violates a rule that the bureaucrats themselves don’t understand.

All of this unproductive activity is about one thing: restricting liberty. Contrary to Democratic Party claptrap, it is not about compassion, fairness or justice. It is about telling people what they can do, whom they can do it with, what they can keep and what they have to forfeit to other people.

Republicans are no better. Instead of doing away with the rules, they create rules of their own that serve their interests. Then, having conspired with Democrats to create rules and restrict liberty, they are aghast that gays are making a public scene and, according to them, undermining society and traditional marriage. But, again, it is the rules that have turned a private matter into a public matter. Now Republicans want more rules.

This is what happens when the government oversteps its constitutional bounds of protecting life, liberty and property. As laws, regulations and rules increase, free choice decreases. And as free choice decreases, people who feel aggrieved seek recourse in the courts, in San Francisco city hall and in the national media. Meanwhile, liberals and conservatives do intellectual somersaults instead of admitting that they have created the problem.

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Mr. Cantoni is an author, columnist and founder of Honest Americans Against Legal Theft (HAALT). He can be reached at

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