Government is not responsible for dictating morality

Florida’s Republicans are growing nearly as tiresome as Florida’s Democrats.

First, Gov. Charlie Crist organizes an eye roll-inducing climate change summit, Serve to Preserve, slated to take place in Miami this week.

Tell me, Gov. Crist, what is little ol’ Florida going to do to combat climate change when big ol’ China – now the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases – is building a coal-fired power plant every seven to 10 days and big ol’ India’s coal-plant construction isn’t far behind?Second, and more notably, Republicans once again aim to do with “morality” what Democrats want to do with your money – use government bureaucracy to control it.

This is the saga being played out as social conservatives in Florida work for a ballot initiative in 2008 that would amend Florida’s constitution to ban gay marriage.

As detailed in a recent Tampa Tribune article, the Florida Republican Party and the Florida Coalition to Protect Marriage share the blame for advocating state intrusion into private life. Florida’s Republican Party has given the coalition over $300,000 since 2005, the year it was formed.

The exact amendment the group is proposing actually seems to work against civil unions, as it states: “Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”

This text appears to indicate that the legal protection of any union not adhering to the man-woman pattern would thus be null.

Crist has, laudably, spoken against giving additional funds to this group.

Such moments of defiance, however, fail to identify and debunk the underlying ethical claim present in all such measures: that the government has the right to regulate private activities that do not initiate force upon others.

Simply put, there is no reason to ban gay marriage, because it isn’t a physical danger to citizens.

In fact, if and when two gay people marry, a person probably wouldn’t even know about it unless he or she were invited to the wedding or bored enough to read wedding announcements in the paper.

And even if the mere receipt of an invitation is bothersome – very unlikely if one is close enough to a gay person to be invited to his or her wedding – there’s no gay Gestapo forcing one to attend.

Really, then, the only “threat” posed by gay marriage to others is that it may “threaten” the feelings of people who are anti-gay marriage. In other words, anti-gay marriage lobbying groups want to dictate law on the most irrational (read: tyrannical) basis possible: personal, emotional offense.

Gay marriage ruffles their feathers, so they want to ban it.

Of course, as a freedom-loving American, I see a problem with banning behavior merely because it’s offensive. Surely, if offense became the basis of illegality, free speech would be very much endangered today.

Even if one finds, for instance, Ann Coulter or Jessie Jackson loathsome, it is much better to live in a country where all are free to spew what they so choose rather than one in which a government bureau or agency decides what is spew-able. For it is only in a free environment that the individual can sort truth from lie and wrong from right without the overriding power of a government decree.

Moreover, there exists a nasty contradiction in the advocacy of applying religious morals to public policy. With the United States fighting wars against theocracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, it seems a little silly to institute such a barbaric and flawed system at home.

It is simply un-American to ban gay marriage at any level of government. The Declaration of Independence imbues the citizens of the United States with equality and the unalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Government must therefore work “to secure these rights” and act as a protector, not a repressor, of all Americans.

Victoria Bekiempis is a junior majoring in history and French.

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