I’m no conservative, but Ted Olson, one of the attorneys in the upcoming case against Proposition 8, makes that argument persuasively in a new piece in Newsweek:

Many of my fellow conservatives have an almost knee-jerk hostility toward gay marriage. This does not make sense, because same-sex unions promote the values conservatives prize. Marriage is one of the basic building blocks of our neighborhoods and our nation. At its best, it is a stable bond between two individuals who work to create a loving household and a social and economic partnership. We encourage couples to marry because the commitments they make to one another provide benefits not only to themselves but also to their families and communities. Marriage requires thinking beyond one’s own needs. It transforms two individuals into a union based on shared aspirations, and in doing so establishes a formal investment in the well-being of society. The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance. Conservatives should celebrate this, rather than lament it.

Legalizing same-sex marriage would also be a recognition of basic American principles, and would represent the culmination of our nation’s commitment to equal rights. It is, some have said, the last major civil-rights milestone yet to be surpassed in our two-century struggle to attain the goals we set for this nation at its formation.

This bedrock American principle of equality is central to the political and legal convictions of Republicans, Democrats, liberals, and conservatives alike. The dream that became America began with the revolutionary concept expressed in the Declaration of Independence in words that are among the most noble and elegant ever written: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Most of our foes who call themselves “conservatives” are anything but. Ever since the early 1970′s they’ve been trying to change the definition of “conservative” to include policies that cram their theocratic beliefs, by government force, into our relationships, into our children’s schools, and into women’s vaginas. They’ve sadly had some success with that,* but Ted Olson’s argument is sound. Unfortunately, we live in a time when the very concept of the intellectual conservative is for the most part dead,** and that’s not a good thing for our democracy.

Read it all, hehindeedy, and all of that.

(h/t New Hampshire Freedom to Marry)

*And now they want to change the definition of “teabagger.” Morons.

**cf.