Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) has announced his support of same-sex marriage in the wake of a federal judge’s recent ruling that struck down Pennsylvania’s definition of marriage as…you know, marriage. He credits public opinion and conversations with his family for sparking his evolution, which has made him one of a half dozen GOP House members who have come out in support of so-called “marriage equality.”
“As a Republican, I value equality, personal freedom and a more limited role for government in our lives,” Dent said in his statement. “I believe this philosophy should apply to the issue of marriage as well.” (Washington Post)
But if the congressman really wants to be Republican and reduce the footprint of government in our lives, he should introduce a bill to get the government out of the business of granting benefits based on relational status. While I believe that strong, Biblical families are the foundation of a cohesive and just society, no government inducement is needed to get folks to marry, and none can keep them married. The Constitution sees people as individuals, not couples nor collective interest groups.
Perhaps what’s most concerning here is the way that a politician’s principles can evolve. Odd that, at least for Republican pols, they always seem to evolve progressively toward the Left.
As a state legislator, in 1996, Charlie Dent actually voted for the definition of marriage that a federal judge declared unconstitutional this month.
“I did so at the time because I thought it was consistent with a strong majority of the constituents I represented,” Dent says. “I voted in a similar manner at the federal level. Years have passed, and the American public’s views on this issue have shifted. So have mine.” (Lehigh Valley Live)
Rep. Dent seems to indicate he previously supported traditional marriage because it led in the polls. The tide of public opinion turned — thanks to a relentless campaign in the media, public schools and arts — and now he has new principles. He now sees the traditional definition of marriage as “the force of government” standing in the way of the pursuit of happiness for same-sex couples. Was he a narrow-minded tyrant before, now transformed into a loving liberator? What fundamental shift in his thinking — beyond the drift of the polls — precipitated his new view?
Is a “representative” merely tabula rasa, awaiting the chalk of public opinion to determine his views, only to be erased and re-written later? When you vote, do you support candidates who seem to support your views, or the ones whose views are triggered when the polls hit 51%? If the latter, then why don’t politicians campaign by showing a list of their key votes side-by-side with the latest polling data on those issues?
Full Disclosure: Rep. Dent’s campaign committee since 2009 has contributed thousands of dollars to my campaigns for local office. I know him personally, and like him. He works hard, and has made many friends in his district.