We have spoken here about the relative closeness of libertarians and conservatives. One interesting response to that assertion was that, while conservatives may talk the talk, they don't walk the walk. They use the courts the same way as liberals on issues such as marriage, drug use, and censorship. It is a point which merits a bit of follow up commentary.
For now, we'll set aside the question of how often conservatives go to court as opposed to their liberal friends. This is not because the point ought not be addressed but instead that it would be rather time consuming to do a full compare and contrast analysis right this minute. If we do not forget, or unless we simply get lazy (that happens sometimes at the Wayne County Conservative Examiner's Office) we shall look into it soon. But right this second we will content ourselves to point out that, in charging that the liberals go to court far too often and selfishly, we do not say that the legal route is always an invalid one. We only say that they pursue it too quickly, and without due regard to the legislative process or the actual meaning and intent of the US Constitution. If and where conservatives may also do as much, they would be subject to similar criticism.
Now, in talking about the issues of marriage, drug use, and censorship, indeed when addressing almost any of the so called social issues, there are two basic points when considering them in relation to the conservative/libertarian spectrum. The first is that they fall into the very areas where we have admitted differences between the two groups exist. They matter and must be discussed. The second is that, hopefully, anyway, we also disagree on them out of concern for the dignity of the individual as within the economic realm.
Libertarians assert that it is up to the individual when it comes to issues which do not, on the surface, appear to affect anyone else. Conservatives, ideally, anyways, stress that the point is not so simple. Your free will acts may well affect others, and must be tempered by good judgment. Indeed, it is the concern for the dignity of the person which calls us to enact laws which protect that dignity even if the persons involved may not want (or, especially, be able to use) such defenses. That is why abortion must be illegal: we are dealing, by any measure of Right Reason, with a person who cannot defend themselves. We need good law with such questions, even if it may seem, in some quarters, to be overreaching. With justice, it is difficult to overreach.
Then, too, with areas such as marriage, it is in fact out of respect for the person that society can and must define legal marriage. Not only because marriage and the family are the building blocks of society and as such a hearty, civil society requires a hearty, stable, and just family and personal environment, but because it may affect the rights of others in areas which get swept under the rug if they are considered at all.
Is a factory owner who opposes same sex marriage morally obliged to offer marital benefits to such a couple, when one of them is his employee? Either way you answer that question, notice closely what you are doing as you do it: defining marriage, and attempting ultimately to force whatever definition you come up with upon others. Without laws regulating what marriage means, on what grounds can we act in support of either belief?
Or do we simply leave the question hanging? That will only work if everyone agrees to it, and that won't happen. It won't happen because it shouldn't happen, and it won't happen because no one, liberal or conservative or libertarian, can or will let it go. We must address it, out of a proper concern for the human dignity of any and all involved, as well to give the correct legal standing to the point.
You get the gist by now. The dignity of the person is a question which does not apply solely to economic rights and responsibilities. Conservatives believe that; we think that in their hearts libertarians do too. If they did not, they wouldn't make an issue of such things themselves.