I remember the shockwaves that went through America’s religious right when Obergefell v. Hodges was decided in 2015.

At the time, it was a major cultural battle – one that social conservatives would fight until the dying breath. It was not that they would fight against gay people directly, of course, but they were not about to let the government redefine marriage.

But that was seven years ago.

Since then, the Supreme Court’s flagrant redefinition of an institution that predates civilization itself has become a relative nonissue. Social conservatives would still confess, privately, that marriage between one man and one woman is ideal, that God established the nuclear family as we know it for a divine purpose, and that religious communities ought to stick to traditional Judeo-Christian teachings regarding marriage.

Beyond that, the GOP of 2022 has little to say on the topic. In fact, some Republicans have even begun to celebrate Pride Month. Earlier this year, 47 House Republicans voted for the woefully misnamed “Respect for Marriage Act” that would enshrine the “right” to gay marriage into federal law. Then, last week, 12 Republicans helped push the bill through the Senate. One of the Republicans who supported the legislation in the House, wrote an opinion piece for Fox News, arguing that the radical redefinition of marriage “is the very definition of freedom and liberty.”

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As Politico rightly noted, the Republican party has officially “[waved] the white flag in the same-sex marriage wars.”

What happened?

The difference between 2015 and 2022 is that Republicans have all but given up on marriage. We have more important battles to fight, they say. Why fight a losing battle? It’s time to count our losses and move on.

However, just because we need not waste our time trying to reverse Obergefell, does not mean we have to sign on to the left’s new “definition” of marriage.

Since 2015, conservatives seem to have forgotten what Obergefell was really all about: whether the government had any right to redefine something as fundamental to society as marriage.

Who gave nine robed justices that authority? Who gave anyone that authority?

For all of human history, most of us have understood why marriage between a man and woman was at least “more normal.” After all, natural procreation is only possible between opposite sexes and procreation is a major component of marriage. This is why, as Ben Shapiro pointed out in a recent Op-Ed, “many cultures [historically] showed tolerance for polygamy; almost none showed tolerance for polyandry.” The former had the capacity for more child-bearing; the latter did not.

Of course, religious people hold that marriage should be monogamous and for life. That does not mean that we would not call a polygamous marriage a marriage for it still meets the criteria of marriage; it is a formally recognized union between a man and a woman. The point is: a relationship might not meet religious prerequisites but that does not mean it is not, by definition, still a marriage.

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The problem is when we begin to redefine marriage to mean something it never has meant. If the traditional definition (that marriage is a formally recognized union between a man and a woman) is correct, then gay marriage is not marriage at all. So, ultimately, this is not a question about whether gays should be allowed to legally marry but a question about what marriage is in the first place.

It is, admittedly, a complicated issue, but politicians certainly are not the ones to rewrite the dictionary.

I am willing to admit that traditional marriage very well may be a lost cause for conservatives. But to jump ship and join the other side is not the solution.

Even if this were not a religious issue (and it is), we can at least agree that the 59 Congressional Republicans who voted in favor of the “Respect for Marriage Act” overstepped their bounds.

Marriage is the bedrock of our society and it has meant one thing for all of human history. I, for one, am not willing to give up on it. If conservatives want to reclaim lost ground, we must first realize that government has no role in redefining an institution as sacred and fundamental to society as marriage.

Jakob Fay is a staff writer for the Convention of States Project, a project of Citizens for Self-Governance.

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