A member of one of American conservatism’s first families has come out as gay and a marriage equality supporter.
“If you had asked me a few years ago if I supported the freedom to marry, I’d have been one of many young Republicans at the time who’d have given you an unequivocal ‘no,’” Sean Buckley writes in a piece published by The Daily Beast over the weekend. He is a great-nephew of the late conservative commentator and National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr. and grandson of James L. Buckley, a former U.S. senator and federal judge.
“But,” he continues, “I began to reexamine my views after acknowledging a part of myself that I’d suppressed for years — I am gay.”
“My family is loving and compassionate but they have been active in the fight to keep marriage limited to heterosexual couples,” he writes. “Because of their influence and the views expressed by so many in my religious community [Roman Catholicism], I grew up with an extremely negative view of gay people.” Their “hate the sin, love the sinner” philosophy “led to an intense self-hatred and a reflexive rejection of anyone that resembled the part of me I was so desperately trying to fight,” says Buckley, a student at Georgetown University who has joined Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry.
He goes on to make a conservative case for marriage equality. He notes that over the course of history, marriage has evolved from a political and economic relationship to one based on love: “At its core the institution of marriage hinges on two individuals committing to one another in life, for life, on a bedrock of love and self-sacrifice, which results in a better environment for raising children. … Conservatives are right to argue that the best environment to raise children is within a marriage. However, it has nothing to do with the gender of their parents but instead the love they have for one another.”
Allowing same-sex couples to marry is in line with conservative values, he says. The fight for marriage equality is “a fight for the rights of individual self-determination and” is also about “preserving marriage and family.”
“As the Supreme Court prepares to consider whether all loving couples should have the freedom to marry,” he concludes, “it is time for conservatives to recognize that just as individual liberty should not depend on a person’s gender or race, it should not depend on whom a person loves, either.”
Speaking to Politico after his article posted, Buckley said he hasn’t managed to convince the older members of his family to support marriage equality, but they at least see it “as something that’s inevitable.” The publication founded by his great-uncle, however, still “stands athwart history, yelling Stop,” he said.