Adams: Don't demand gun rights while asking government to restrict marriage

Marcos German Domingues of Massachusetts stands with his

Marcos German Domingues of Massachusetts stands with his dogs Sophia, left, and Georg, right, in front of the Supreme Court in Washington. (March 27, 2013) (Credit: AP)

On protecting marriage, I've been a very active supporter of the traditional definition even though I've found it impossible to do so while maintaining logical consistency.

Unwinding faulty reasoning on both sides of the political spectrum won't be quick or easy but will be worth the effort.

Nearly a decade ago, I spent one long Saturday executing three rallies in three towns supporting a state attempt to forestall changing marriage in Kentucky. Nine years later, I think I've come to an important realization about this issue to frame and inform a multitude of public policy debates, including gay marriage.


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The rallies drew energized, if not enormous, crowds and the fight brought no resolution to the issue. I think that's because the main driver holding back same-sex marriages is government force and there is little room - and even less persistent enthusiasm - for such intrusion in a free country, even if the end goal is protecting a cornerstone of Christian civilization.

When one group justifies using law as a sledgehammer to impose its will arbitrarily on other Americans, justice is not served. Legal scholars sometimes speak of "compelling government interest," but a clear-eyed analysis of these attempts suggests likely failure of both ends and means.

Consider this: Insisting government leave your guns alone while demanding it limit private intimate relationships of political opponents makes no more sense than those opponents insisting government redefine marriage while having it round up your guns. The Second Amendment right to bear arms is absolute because when imperfect people seek to limit that guarantee, they inevitably fail to serve the public good or protect individual rights.

Similarly, First Amendment rights of assembly and 14th Amendment rights of due process and equal treatment can't constitutionally be cast aside to stop people from marrying whom they choose.

And yes, these facts hold even if they rip apart the very fabric of western civilization we hold dear or cause us discomfort in public places.

This is where the conversation turns, I think appropriately, to religion and the philosophical underpinning of our society. We tried to outlaw homosexuality for religious reasons, just as we have tried to outlaw and actively discourage dissolution of heterosexual marriages. None of these efforts worked and none of them withstood constitutional muster. As a result, we stopped doing them.

We have similarly tried using gun-control laws to improve public safety. Gun registration, confiscations and imposition of "gun-free zones" have failed, sometimes disastrously, to protect the public and have operated in clear opposition to basic individual rights.

If we can start to see these two wrongs not making a right, I think we grow close to agreement on a host of issues improving recognition of individual freedoms and enhancing relations between people of different points of view.

Most readers of this essay have seen government controlled by people holding opposing stances on key issues. Allowing government run by "our group" to infringe upon the rights of "their group" for no better justification than because we can is a pernicious evil we must join together to stop.

I believe our Heavenly Father, the creator of all things, rules over his creation by allowing us to make our own choices. It is folly, then, for us to believe we can rightly exercise force over each other even if our intentions are good.

Our most fundamental agreement as Americans is the protection of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Returning there and protecting even opponents' rights according to the Constitution will better serve us all.

David Adams of Nicholasville, Ky., is a tea party activist who once lobbied for a state ban on gay marriage. He wrote this for the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader.

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