Politicians who disapprove of something morally but still fight hard for it?

I don’t follow politics all that closely, but I still find it strange that I can’t remember a single instance of a politician disagreeing morally with a stance, but still fighting hard for its implementation/legalization in the name of freedom.

Where are the politicians who think that gay people are going to hell, but still should be allowed to marry, since America is a free country where there is a (theoretical) separation of church and state, and there is no compelling secular reason to the contrary?

Where are the politicians who think prostitution is immoral and abhorrent, but still should be legalized because of either personal freedom (to do with one’s body what one will), or for pragmatic reasons (giving oversight and protection to endangered hookers)?

Where are the devoutly Christian politicians who want to take “God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance, in the name of separation of church and state?
I know there are some legislators who may vote against their own personal morals to protect people’s rights, but are there any who actively fight for such causes? Or is that spirit of “I may disagree with what you say, but I’ll fight to the death for your right to say it” extinct from modern politics? Did it ever really exist?

I can’t think of that many people who hold such views, setting aside politicians. But the examples I can think of – and I’m not convinced this is a genuine view as opposed to spin – is that Rudy Guiliani says that he is opposed to abortion but does not favor outlawing it. John Kerry said something similar in 2004.

I don’t know but I suspect that most politicians that oppose flag burning prohibitions are personally against flag burning. Does that qualify?

I am not a politician, but I have mentioned two or three times in other threads that I do not support “Ceremonial Deism.” I think that having “In God We Trust” on coins trivializes religious belief as well as oversteps the bounds between Church and State.

Even as a child, I felt awkward when “under God” was added to The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag..

I have no doubt that there are many other liberal Christians who feel as I do. Whether or not you will find them standing up for their rather unpopular point of view in Congress is another matter.

And certainly there are many people who are opposed to abortion but who defend the woman’s right to choose. Perhaps it is not something that they could morally choose for themselves under most circumstances, but who support the each woman’s right to make that moral decision for herself. They see the humanity of the woman as well as the jpotential humanity of the fetus.

I think the OP poses an excellent question.

Mario Cuomo was asked how he reconciled his Catholicism with his Pro-Choice stance.

He gave his answer in a speech at Notre Dame University. I accept the Church’s teaching on abortion. Must I insist that you do by denying you Medicaid funding? By a constitutional amendment? And if by a constitutional amendment, which one? Would that be the best way to avoid abortions or to prevent them?

Now, these are only some of the questions for Catholics. People with other religious beliefs face similar problems. Let me try some answers.

As Catholics, my wife and I were enjoined never to use abortion to destroy the life we created, and we never have. We thought Church doctrine was clear on this. And more than that, both of us felt it in full agreement with what our own hearts and our own consciences told us. For me, for Matilda, life or fetal life in the womb should be protected, even if five of nine justices of the Supreme Court and my neighbor disagree with me. A fetus is different from an appendix or a set of tonsils. At the very least, even if the argument is made by some scientists or theologians that in the early stages of fetal development we can’t discern human life, the full potential of human life is indisputably there. That, to my less subtle mind, by itself is enough to demand respect, and caution, indeed reverence.

And so very respectfully, and after careful consideration of the position and the arguments of the bishops for a long time, I’ve concluded that the approach of a constitutional amendment is not the best way for us to seek to deal with abortion.

I believe that the legal interdicting of abortion by either the federal government or the individual states is not a plausible possibility and, even if it could be obtained, it wouldn’t work. Given present attitudes, it would be Prohibition revisited, legislating what couldn’t be enforced and in the process creating a disrespect for law in general. And as much as I admire the bishops’ hope that a constitutional amendment against abortion would be the basis for a full, new bill of rights for mothers and children, I disagree, very respectfully, that that would be the result. I believe that, more likely, a constitutional prohibition – which you can’t get, but if you could – would allow people to ignore the causes of many abortions instead of addressing them, addressing the causes much the way the death penalty is used to escape dealing more fundamentally and more rationally with the problem of violent crime.

There’s more in the speech: my excerpts probably do not do justice to the detailed argument.

Nice example. I guess it does make sense that a great deal of pro-choice people are indeed morally opposed to the action, but consider it first and foremost an issue of freedom. I tend to think that politicians who can muster up the self-discipline to not try to force their own moral standards on others despite believing strongly in them… those are ones I can really respect, maybe even trust (as far as you can trust one o’ dem politicos, anyway).

Is that a reasonable generalization to make?

My guess is that any politician who thinks that way is going to leave the active fighting to those who support the causes. Perhaps they believe (with some justification) that there are too many voters who wouldn’t be able to make the distinction between “I disagree with what you say” and “I’ll fight to the death for your right to say it,” and who will accuse them of being a hypocrite or a flip-flopper.

Having illegal sex with gay prostitutes.

I’ve heard that phrase (or something very similar) said when listening to the House of Commons. I can’t remember exactly when, but IIRC Tony Blair was either the one saying it or it was being said to him. Someone who can do an electronic search of Hansard can probably pinpoint it.

Let’s try the reverse. Where are the liberal politicians who’ll say, “I don’t approve of the death penalty, but it’s plainly Constitutional and it’s supported by the vast majority of the electorate. So, on with the executions!”

Maybe it’s reasonable, but I don’t agree with it.

I care about a politician’s policies, corruption and effectiveness. To me, the remainder is blather or a proxy for the ill-informed at best.

That aside, I think Cuomo is a fine orator and a thoughtful writer.

“I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.”


…or, to be more accurate, "Misattributed to Voltaire, actually penned by The Friends of Voltaire (1906) perhaps as a tribute to his Essay on Tolerance: “Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.”

Some progressive politicians think that the death penalty is legitimate as a form of public revulsion and sanction in extreme cases such a mass murder or being a true drug kingpin. But they also think that it is too broadly, too haphazardly applied as practiced: they seek to reform it. The majesty of the death penalty should not be codified to apply to the murder of a federal meat inspector, according to this view.

Obama and the late Paul Tsongas are two possible examples.

Heh I didn’t realize my examples were all ones that would put the speaker in the liberal camp. Bring on the morally-repulsed but legally-supportive death penalty advocates!

Also, how about those that advocate against affirmative action, even though they really want to see more minorities rise through the system? The latter’d be very hard to really discern, though.