Conservatives typically believe in keeping political and societal traditions intact, but the definition of a conservative can vary greatly around the world. In the United States, conservatives have a broad range of ideologies.
The term conservative was often applied to those who supported monarchies in European nations, and conservatives in those countries are likely to support policies maintaining old institutions that republicans and progressives might want to disband. In most of these nations, they fight against socialist ideals as well.
In the United States, however, the term conservative can stand for a wide range of political positions. Many conservatives argue in favor of small government and actively campaign against popular social programs that have existed for decades. They often fight regulations and argue for lower tax rates across the board.
The real conflict arises between libertarians and Christian conservatives. While libertarians argue that gay marriage should not be outlawed by the government, the Christian right is in favor of these restrictions. Similarly, the libertarian wing of American conservatism believes in the strict separation of religion and government; the Christian wing argues in favor of school vouchers, prayer being sanctioned in schools and the use of the Bible for supporting political positions. Despite their differences, these wings are all called conservative.