For two weeks, Republicans have been moaning about Obergefell v. Hodges, the June 26 Supreme Court decision that declared gay marriage a constitutional right. Even presidential candidates who claim to represent the party’s next generation are pledging to continue the fight. Sen. Marco Rubio says marriage “should be between one man and one woman.” Gov. Scott Walker wants a constitutional amendment to overturn the court’s ruling. Sen. Ted Cruz says Republicans should campaign against the court, because its decision is “radically out of step with public opinion.”
These men are leading the GOP in the wrong direction. There’s a simpler, saner way for Republicans to regain their footing on social issues. Go back to being the party of lifestyle conservatism: marriage, parenthood, community, faith, commitment, self-discipline, and social order. Recognize same-sex marriage as part of that tradition. Now that the fight for “marriage equality” has been won, the next fight is about what that victory means. Are we welcoming same-sex couples, like different-race couples, to an enduring institution? Or are we rethinking the rules of marriage and its place in society? That’s a debate to which social conservatives should contribute. And it’s a fight the GOP can win.