Rep. Nancy Mace recently wrote an opinion piece for Fox News in which she argued in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act. “The right to marry the person you love is the very definition of freedom and liberty,” Mace wrote.
I strongly disagree with this claim. There are numerous rights that are far more basic and fundamental than the ability to marry. To give a few examples:
- The right to purchase, carry, own, and possess firearms and other weapons
- The right to decide whether or not to get a medical procedure
- The right to consume whatever substances one wishes, in whatever amounts one wishes
- The right to spend one’s time the way one wishes
- The right to move about freely
- The right to keep one’s own money
- The right to be free from searches of one’s person, possessions, and property
- The right to privacy of one’s medical information
- The right to privacy of one’s internet browsing activity
- The right to privacy, period.
The very definition of freedom and liberty is the ability to live your life as you please. The activities most central to freedom and liberty are individual activities, not social ones or communal ones. In other words, the activities most central to freedom and liberty are activities that people do alone, or at least activities that do not require the involvement of other people in order to be meaningful or to make sense. And that is what the activities listed above have in common. The definition of freedom and liberty is the ability to do what one wishes to do, without interference from others.
There is definitely an argument to be made that people have a right to enter into whatever types of relationships they wish with other people. Items in this category include marriage, as well as freedom of association and freedom of assembly. But these types of freedoms are not as fundamental as the right to be free from interference, aggression, pressure, or coercion. Individual rights are the very definition of freedom and liberty.
It is angering that many on the left-hand side of the political spectrum (I place Rep. Mace into this category even though she is technically a Republican) place such a large degree of importance on freedoms that are related to sex, without seeming to place any importance whatsoever on other types of freedoms. People who subscribe to this way of thinking go on and on about abortion, contraception, marriage, and the ability to express oneself sexually and have one’s sexual identity respected. Ad nauseam, they insult and vilify Republicans for allegedly threatening to take away “our rights and freedoms.” Yet with regard to non-sex-related freedoms, the left is either apathetic or actively hostile (gun rights, the right to decline medical intervention, the right to move about freely, the right to keep one’s own money, and the right to medical privacy, to name just a few freedoms that the left has recently been crusading passionately against). To many politicians, it is apparently perfectly fine for people to be able to do whatever they want sex-wise, while at the same time having absolutely no freedom in any other areas of their lives. This obsession with sex is illogical and hypocritical. Sex is not the only aspect of life that matters – and for some people sex is not part of their lives at all! – so it is important that all freedoms and liberties be protected, and not only sex-related ones.
It is shameful that Congress is spending time and energy protecting the “right” to marry the person you love, while actual rights are under assault. The heart and soul of liberty – its very definition – consists of freedom from interference by other people. Until that most fundamental form of freedom is universally respected, unanimously agreed upon, and secured for everyone beyond the shadow of a doubt, it is hurtful and wrong to focus on the freedom to marry.