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Sunday, January 04, 2009

U.S. Libertarian Party comes out against Prop. 8

The federal Libertarian Party in the United States recently came out against Proposition 8, an amendment to California's state constitution that would prohibit same-sex marriage.

Andrew Davis, the LP's director of communications, posted on the party's official blog:

Proposition 8 represents the ultimate failure in direct democracy and majority rule—when the people vote against more freedom, rather than for more freedom.
As far as California goes, the people have spoken, even if it's not what some wanted to hear. So long as people are allowed to put referendums on the ballot, there will be times when the majority wins at the cost of minority rights. Does it make it right? Of course not, but that is the risk one takes when transferring direct power from the legislature back to the citizens.


Posted by Terrence Watson on January 4, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink


While I agree that there are cases where direct democracy can threaten personal freedom, I don't think Prop 8 is one of them. Like the author says, the ideal libertarian solution would be to privatize marriage, leaving its definition up to individuals, churches, etc., but that seems unlikely to happen in the immediate future. So long as all forms of relationships are treated equally under the law, the way that government classifies them isn't really a libertarian issue.

Marriage, after all, is not a right in and of itself, but a cultural concept that entails certain rights. So long as the rights associated with marriage are granted equally to all people (and they are in California, through domestic partnerships), there is no libertarian reason to expand the definition of the word marriage beyond its traditional meaning.

Gay people in California are free to enter into a domestic partnership, enjoy all the same rights as married couples, and call their relationship whatever they want. So long as these rights are respected, the majority should be free to define a cultural concept like marriage in narrow (and arguably more accurate) terms.

I would never vote to revoke a practical right or freedom, but I would have had no problem voting for Prop 8, because no practical rights or freedoms were threatened. In a case where no actual freedom is being taken away, there is nothing wrong with a libertarian simply voting his conscience.

The Libertarian Party was wrong to take a position on this issue. It will only serve to drive conservative-minded voters away from their cause.

Posted by: Jeremy Maddock | 2009-01-04 7:54:43 PM

When so many people spend so much time and money arguing that marriage should be denied to same-sex partners it is impossible to believe that their position is based on defending the integrity of Webster's Dictionary or the OED. You would have to be a fool to believe that. So it would seem that there is something more substantial here than just a public decision on what words will be used for what purposes.

If it really were an issue only about the use of a single word, then those who oppose using "marriage" for same-sex couples would be insane to spend any time or energy (let alone money) on the issue. The BIG LIE in this debate is that it is only about a word. It isn't. It's about the fundamental equality of all citizens. It is an isue of liberty. The Libertarian Party has got it right. The religious fascists are wrong.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-01-04 8:34:40 PM

"The religious fascists are wrong."

So everyone who voted in California against the same-sex recognition is a fascist, and religious?

Ho-hum....your statement is deluded and weak.

Posted by: prairie dog | 2009-01-04 8:53:59 PM


"So everyone who voted in California against the same-sex recognition is a fascist, and religious?"

No. I didn't say that at all. I do believe they are all fascists, as they are happy - eager, even - to deny freedom and equality to their fellow citizens. Of course some of those fascists are not religious. Maybe you would prefer I use the term "anti-freedom bigot" to "fascist". Either is fine with me.

But if you really want to get involved in a discussion that is supposedly only about the use of language, you really should bone up on your reading comprehension first.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-01-04 9:04:58 PM

Yeah...well....those were your words.

Bone up on my reading, and comprehension? Who has the time for such novelties?

Posted by: prairie dog | 2009-01-04 9:15:20 PM

If I were a black guy I'd be pissed off too that the gays keep labeling all their causes as "civil rights" crusades, and defacing and hijacking history to serve political ends.(I don't get it, do they want to hosed/dog attacked?) I agree with Jeremy with the whole government leaving marriage definition in private hands. I also think the GOP has become uncomfortably religious, and think the christian right bear most of the blame for that.
A part of me wants to vote for Prop 8 on the grounds that Gays are unrelentingly militant in left politics, in judicial circles esp.

"If it really were an issue only about the use of a single word, then those who oppose using "marriage" for same-sex couples would be insane to spend any time or energy (let alone money) on the issue."
The same argument could apply to other side too.

Posted by: Cid the Cidious | 2009-01-04 9:20:22 PM

Jeremy has nicely framed this issue. I would only add that much of Prop 8 strength comes from natural revulsion to radical gay agendas including public gay pride obscenities and their going beyond equal rights and entitlements such as civil unions, to attempts at forcing religious institutions to honor them against their will. The libertarian position should be to privatize contractual relationships and legalize private discrimination with all it's ugliness and protection of property rights.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2009-01-04 10:35:09 PM

As a black guy( you racsist Imbecile !) i will say this is a civil right and for your information if a majority got to define marrige it would still be segragated! we live in this democracy for the protection from a tyrannizing goverment and prop 8 is tyrannizing. This is not a dam theocracy! Keep your religion to your self! This is a free and equal country thats the reason it was made and its the reason it stays. So for 52% of one state to dictate the minority (10% or less) is opression from the govermnet when writen in law it will be overturned because it goes against The Equal Protection Clause to protect the monorities from the majorities and two other laws( one to protect the past marriges and the other to make it a revision)! any way my generation( i just turned 17 last month =D) hopefuly gona get the chance to srike it down.=](if the court doesnt already xP) once all the old rebublican homophobes die off

Posted by: Bronzel | 2009-01-04 10:53:22 PM

Hey Bronzel, go stuff your self!

You are wrong, plain and simple, the peolpe have spoken.

Posted by: prairie dog | 2009-01-05 1:22:33 AM

Correction..."people" that is, have spoken.

Posted by: prairie dog | 2009-01-05 1:24:46 AM


I wrote: "If it really were an issue only about the use of a single word, then those who oppose using "marriage" for same-sex couples would be insane to spend any time or energy (let alone money) on the issue."

You replied: "The same argument could apply to other side too."

I agree 100%. The fact that opponents spend so much time, energy, and money opposing Prop 8 *IS* proof that they believe that the issue is not merely about being faithful to Webster's dictionary. It *IS* proof that they believe that the issue is one of fundamental equality. So the question remains how those *OPPOSED* to Prop 8 can explain why they spend so much time, energy, and effort opposing it if they *REALLY* believe it's just an issue of semantics. The answer there is that they can't. Whether they admit it or not, they too believe that it is a much bigger issue, which was entirely my point.


You might have read my words, but you obviously did not understand them. Again, learn to read with comprehension before you weigh in on what you claim to be just an issue of the use of language. The fact that you keep repling to this thread is proof you don't think it's *MERELY* about a word. No one - other than the most stuffy Oxbridge scholars - cares *THAT* much about resisting changes to the dictionary.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-01-05 6:03:49 AM

Correction to above: "*OPPOSED*" should read "who *SUPPORT*"

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-01-05 6:05:35 AM

Are all people who voted for prop 8 fascists and bigots and whatnots? certainly not, the majority of them probably voted conscientiously most of them are probably working class people with little knowledge or understanding of the real meaning of prop 8 and were mislaid by church leaders, threatened to rot in hell, they're not guilty, just like little kids exploding themselves in a busy market place, they're mislaid by the Mollahs (priests), religion is not bad per se, it's the use made by the church leaders which is toxic, just like Lenin and uncle Jo made a joke of Marxism. Church leaders are the one who should be exposed for what they are, they help the poor but only in such a way that they'll accept their situation never to better themselves, so they can vote in the next scam.

Posted by: fern | 2009-01-05 6:13:06 AM

Further proof that there should be a clear distinction between church and state.

Marriage is a ‘church' concept (whose primary purpose was the stable upbringing of children) and those who reject the teachings of the church have no claim to the concept.

The ‘state' should keep its nose out of it, other than as a convenient vehicle to register the church's understanding through the millenia.

Posted by: set you free | 2009-01-05 9:48:37 AM

Fact Check: "So the question remains how those [who support] Prop 8 can explain why they spend so much time, energy, and effort opposing it if they *REALLY* believe it's just an issue of semantics. The answer there is that they can't. Whether they admit it or not, they too believe that it is a much bigger issue, which was entirely my point."

Actually, most people who supported Prop 8 didn't spend much time or energy on it at all -- they simply checked a box on a ballot. Like most issues, there will be extreme opinions on either side, but that doesn't prove that all (or even most) Prop 8 supporters are basing their position on intolerance.

I'm sure that for every true anti-gay bigot in California, there are several anti-Christian bigots salivating at the eventual prospect of subjecting churches to "anti-discrimination" legislation.

Posted by: Jeremy Maddock | 2009-01-05 12:18:32 PM

A very high percentage of blacks and hispanics voted for proposition 8..people down there are screaming 'how could you?' you were oppressed once too!

Freedom for me but not for thee..

Posted by: Kursk | 2009-01-05 12:33:23 PM


Now you're getting close.

Is it a feeling of oppression that contributes to this irrational anger?

Marriage is a part of a much larger philosophical construct.

It's not like a buffet where people come up and say, I think I'll take marriage, but pass over the personal responsibility bit.

It's often the choices people make that cause a feeling of oppresion and everybody is responsible for their own choices.

After Socrates and Plato, there really was nowhere for philosophy to go.

None of these issues are new issues. It's just that those who feel oppressed really have not searched hard enough to find the answers that lead to a creation of inner peace.

Blacks and hispanics obviously know the difference between real and contrived oppression because they have developed a moral compass that tells them they are responsible for their own happiness and their own misery.

It's all a matter of attitude derived from a post ancient Greek philosophy.

Today's humanity has not even progressed as far as to understand those basic philosophies.

Nobody is entitled to respect from other human beings. Respect has to be earned.

Posted by: set you free | 2009-01-05 12:53:05 PM

Bob Barr repudiates Defense Of Marriage Act:


Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-01-05 1:57:08 PM

Legalizing gay "marriage" would have been a recipe for disaster. As soon as it was codified into law the lawsuits against churches that did not wish to participate would have begun. We know this to be true because they have elsewhere.

Is the Libertarian Party taking a position in defense of gay marriage at the expense of religious liberty? It would appear so, especially when current laws arr already such that gay persons are already entitled to the same legal benefits as married persons.

Posted by: Eric | 2009-01-05 11:02:58 PM

As with much of the opposition to Prop 8, we find ignorance at the core of the claim that gay people would or could attempt to force a religious institution to recognise their marriages. Here is a direct quote from the Californian Supreme Court decision which struck down the original ban on gay marriages:
“Finally, affording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the
designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any
religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs.

Also from the decision:

“From the state’s inception, California law has treated the legal institution of civil marriage as distinct from religious marriage. Article XI, section 12 of the California Constitution of 1849 provided in this regard: “No contract of marriage, if otherwise duly made, shall be invalidated by want of conformity to the
requirements of any religious sect.” This provision is now set forth, in identical
language, in Family Code section 420, subdivision (c).”

Posted by: Brian C. | 2009-01-06 9:56:43 AM

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