The Ugliest Step-Child of Libertarian Politics

Why Libertarians Should Care About Gay Issues

Written in 2004 for the LPGA newsletter, a Presidential election year. 2004 was also the year Georgia wrote discrimination into their state Constitution.

Every Libertarian Party activist hear it time and again, “Oh, that’s the party of Druggies, Gun Fanatics, and Queers.” My answer to this is usually, “No, the Libertarian Party is for everyone, but how the government treats these people is a good indication of how they will eventually treat you.”

Because these three issues are seen by some as a reason NOT to support the LP, many LP members have decided that these issues (sometimes minus one they like) should be at least de-emphasized and that it would be better to pretend that these issues simply don’t exist.

Each of these issues (The Drug War, The Right to Bear Arms, and Equal Rights for GLBT people) are like “ugly step-children” to some libertarians, but the reason we support them is they all involve attacks by the government on people’s basic rights. As such, they all are legitimate issues for the LP to support and even to emphasize when appropriate.

However one of these has never been a Front Line issue for the Libertarian Party and has been consistently moved to the “back-burner” during campaign years. Each of the other two issues, drugs and guns, have been publicly presented as a key issue for the party’s success, more than once. And because these two have louder advocates, Gay Rights issues are usually dumped first. To monitor and influence this behavior in the LP is part of the reason Outright Libertarians was started.

The key to an LP victory is not in who we dump, but in who we include. We must become the advocate party for ALL those who love liberty and have no real political advocate with the demopublicans. And our success then could be built not on emphasizing any one, except under special circumstances, but in advocating all such issues.

When we successfully communicate this message, people will be more eager to jump on our bandwagon. And we can start this process by learning why we should include, not necessarily emphasize, GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered) individuals and their issues.

We Already Support Equal Rights

For most libertarians the fact that gays have civil rights is a forgone conclusion. Our live-and-let-live attitude is fundamental to the principles we live by. But libertarians from conservative political or faith backgrounds sometimes have trouble reconciling the times when what they’ve been taught about gays (sinfulness, repulsive, they are “less than,” inhuman, and undeserving of God’s Grace) clashes with principled action.

We as Libertarians have a unique opportunity in the turmoil surrounding the issue of the right to civil marriage for gays and lesbians, to be among the few that will stand up for an oppressed minority. We can show them that we are a party that stands up for this most modern of civil rights issues, a party that does the right thing when everyone else is doing the politically expedient thing. But, will we?

Because the Republicans have made Marriage Rights a political football in this campaign and the Democrats have bailed on the gay community yet again, we Must speak out against the civil inequities and against their abuse of our national and state constitutions.

Why Gays are so Insistent on the Right to Marry

In spite of what Religious conservatives and others would have you believe, there is only one common thread that is found in ALL definitions of marriage:  Marriage always creates a wholly new family unit… a new next-of-kin… a new primary family relationship! Not even the concept of one man marrying one woman is as pervasive or fundamental as that.

The right to create a family through marriage has been specifically denied to gays and lesbians. But the natural human instinct to bond together into family units is not lost or diminished in gay men and lesbians, just forbidden by law. This human need to create family is at the heart of the gay marriage movement because so many gays and lesbians have been thrown out of their own original families.

And this need of the heart extends to an actual legal need as well. Gays and Lesbians have tried everything possible to protect their rights through legal means; Wills, Powers of Attorney, Contracts, etc. And still, any blood relative and practically any Judge can easily throw it all out the window after a brief hearing in court. The legal next-of-kin, usually a blood relative, can deny access to a dying lover’s hospital room, they can remove a child from its only remaining loving parent, and they can force the sell of a surviving partner’s home and business. Nothing short of full civil marriage can protect these rights fully in a next-of-kin oriented legal system. In a libertarian society civil marriage would not be necessary because the courts could not ignore legal documents and contracts in favor of a bigoted blood relative.

None of the arguments against gay marriage hold up under scrutiny. For example, if the protection of marriage was their real goal, they would ban divorce and make adultery a felony. But that limits their own freedom, not those of gays and lesbians.

And, if the concept of “one man, one woman” were truly the common thread through all definitions of marriage throughout time, as conservatives claim, then why is there so many examples of cultures with multiple marriages in various forms. Orthodox Mormons are still bitter about the government’s interference in their religious beliefs.

What these efforts to write discrimination into our state Constitutions really do is to deny gays and lesbians the right to create a legally recognized family. Each church’s definition of marriage has never been in danger, nor has any individual’s own personal definition. All that gays and lesbians want is their equal rights under the law, nothing more, but nothing less will do, either.

What The Libertarian Party Can Do

Just once I’d like to see the Libertarian Party put Equal Rights for Gays & Lesbians on the “Front Burner”. And the LP has that opportunity – this year, an election year, and on a constitutional issue at that. This year a number of states are trying to pass constitutional amendments to limit Marriage to a union between one man and one woman. Georgia is one of them. If nothing else, this is yet another attempt to abuse these state Constitutions, documents meant only to limit government, not to limit the freedom of citizen’s.

If we do nothing, we will be morally guilty of the inconsistent application of our own principles. If we let this issue pass us by, we will become NOT the Party of Principle, but the Party of Fear.

If we do nothing, we will never again be able to look people in the eye and say we will stand against the powers that be for their civil rights. Why, because the tide of opinion is turning, eventually our inaction will be seen as supporting the status quo in a time of change.

The gay community’s self-described “best hope,” the Democrats, have flip-flopped yet again on this vital issue to the gay community. Will the LP take advantage of this opportunity to prove to GLBT individuals that WE are the only party that consistently supports them? Or will the LP prove once again that the equal rights issues of the GLBT community is it’s Ugliest Step-Child?

NOTE:  In 2004, the LP wrote better language for GLBT rights into its Platform but did nothing else that year.

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