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January 25. 2012 11:27PM

Ken Mehlman: Republicans should be for same-sex marriage

“Live Free or Die” isn’t just the official motto for a great state. As the 62nd Republican National Committee Chairman, I think it’s a mantra our party should live by. I hope that New Hampshire legislators will remember this slogan and reject proposals to strip citizens of their right to marry.

The party of Lincoln and Reagan should stand first and foremost for freedom. It’s part of our heritage and ought to be part of our DNA. Freedom for Americans of all races is why our party was founded. And our greatest moments — from the unbelievable economic recovery unleashed by lower taxes and less regulation to the fall of the Berlin Wall — resulted when we promoted freedom.

Stripping away the right of adults in New Hampshire to marry the person they love is antithetical to freedom. If we really believe (and we should) that every citizen is endowed by their creator with the right to pursue happiness, shouldn’t this include the right to marriage? If we believe in limited government, how can we justify expanding the authority of the state to take away this most personal, fundamental right? Aren’t politicians already too involved in too much of our lives? Why would we want to expand government to such a personal space?

Allowing New Hampshire citizens to marry the person they love isn’t just consistent with maximizing freedom. It also promotes responsibility, commitment and stability; it promotes family values. Again, our history provides a good road map: One of our party’s finest hours was the passage of welfare reform because it strengthened families and promoted marriage. Why would we want to take away this right from anyone?

New Hampshire’s civil marriage law protects religious freedom. No religious institution has to perform or recognize same-sex marriages. This is important because different religious traditions have different views on this question.

But despite these differences, so many of our faiths and traditions are rooted in the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would want done to you. Isn’t allowing adults to marry the person they love consistent with the Golden Rule? If you were born gay (as I was), how would you feel if your state government took away this basic civil right that is available to all of your neighbors? How would you feel if you were a young person and were told by your state that the loving and stabilizing relationship you see in your mom and dad would never be available to you?

During my time in politics, I always believed that good policy is good politics. Looking at the views of New Hampshire voters, it’s pretty clear that stripping the right to marry is bad policy and bad politics. Sixty-two percent of New Hampshire voters oppose taking away the right to marry.

I will be in New Hampshire this week — to urge legislative members of my party to reject House Bill 437. It’s time to stand up for individual freedom and liberty, to live by the Golden Rule and to oppose any effort to diminish or strip away individual rights, and to return to the real business of building business, keeping taxes down and growing our economy. “Live Free or Die” should be more than just a slogan.

Ken Mehlman, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, is a businessman in New York.

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