MILLER: Time to Rethink Guns, Gays, Gestation
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 00:09
I identify as a Republican, but that doesn’t mean I won’t call my party out when I disagree with it. In fact, I’ll be the first one to say that the GOP is downright wrong about its approach to three issues: guns, gays and gestation.
Let’s start with guns. The Second Amendment clearly identifies “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” The GOP is correct in its stance that the government ought not to regulate guns in a way that prevents Americans from attaining them. In taking this hard-line approach, however, the party ignores the crux of the issue: gun safety. The Republican position should not be focused on opposing regulation but on supporting the right kind. The issue is not that people have guns; it’s how they use them.
One would be hard pressed to find a Republican whose personal political crusade is to abolish the safety requirements that one must meet in order to get a driver’s license. Following that same logic, it should not be such a huge step for Republicans to support the same kind of regulations on gun safety. The party ought to focus its energy on supporting gun safety training regulations while opposing prohibitive regulations such as burdensome identification requirements and extended waiting periods.
Now for the gays. Republicans’ opposition to gay marriage is founded more on a religious than a political basis. To say that politics and religion do not influence and inform each other would be ignorant. However, in the spirit of separation between church and state, I contend that Republicans turn a dangerously blind eye to that line by opposing gay marriage for religious reasons thinly veiled by political ones.
The reality is that our government and legal system is set up to recognize units of two. For a long time, those units were comprised of a man and a woman. But times and social norms have changed, and a significant portion of the American population is being marginalized by legal restrictions on homosexual marriage. It would not be any huge upset to our political system to recognize legal marriages between two men or two women — or any variation of two adult citizens, regardless of how they identify sexually.
In no way do I intend to be insensitive to those who oppose gay marriage for what are to them religious and moral reasons, as those opinions do matter and do have a place. That being said, recognizing gay marriage under the law would not and should not require that churches and other religious institutions do the same. There is a way to mediate the concerns of those protecting their religious beliefs and the rights of homosexual citizens to marry.
Acceptance of homosexuality is here to stay, and the window of opportunity for the Republican Party to align with this shift in social norms is rapidly closing, especially considering the language of the GOP platform unveiled in Tampa just weeks ago.
Lastly, gestation. The Republican Party stands in staunch opposition to abortion. Similarly to the issue of same-sex marriage, this is driven primarily by religious convictions. The greatest evidence of this is the incongruence between the GOP’s stance on abortion and its stance on the Affordable Care Act. How can the party justify its opposition to government intrusion into health care while at the same time calling for the government to have a determining hand in Americans’ reproductive health options and decisions? The GOP should establish a consistent platform: Just as the government ought not to interfere with health care, it must not impinge upon individuals’ reproductive health decisions.
While the GOP is in the midst of an effort to broaden its base, these three issues — gun regulations, same-sex marriage and abortion — have long foiled that endeavor. A simple reframing of the approaches to these topics, though, would make the party accessible to a large contingent of Republicans — especially women and the youth — who cannot identify with the current platform.
The future of the GOP is a conservative fiscal and national security agenda and a more liberal social platform. Recognizing this inevitable trajectory is essential to the Republican Party’s political viability.
Hannah Miller is a junior in the College.