Ron Paul And Gay Rightsby Doug Mataconis
Ron Paul is widely considered, rightfully so I would argue, to be the most libertarian candidate for President running in either party. At the same time, a few bloggers have raised questions about some of his public policy stands and whether they really are pro-liberty. He favors restrictions on immigration, while most libertarians would argue in favor of (more) open borders. He has voted against every major free trade pact that has come before Congress and while his points about so-called “managed trade” are well taken, the fact remains that regimes like NAFTA, CAFTA, and individual free trade agreements with nations like Israel have made foreign trade vastly more free. He’s pro-life, though personally I don’t think being a libertarian necessarily requires you to be on either side of the abortion issue.
There’s one area that bothers me, though, and that’s when it comes to his views on the right of homosexuals to live their lives as they choose.
Several months ago, Kip Esquire blogged about this issue and asked just how libertarian you’d think someone who made this statement was:
I oppose federal efforts to redefine marriage as something other than a union between one man and one woman[.] … In fact, the institution of marriage most likely pre-dates the institution of government!
If I were in Congress in 1996, I would have voted for the Defense of Marriage Act[.]
I was an original cosponsor of the Marriage Protection Act, HR 3313, that removes challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act from federal courts’ jurisdiction.
If I were a member of [a state] legislature, I would do all I could to oppose any attempt by rogue judges to impose a new definition of marriage on the people of my state.
The division of power between the federal government and the states is one of the virtues of the American political system.
[I]f federal judges wrongly interfere and attempt to compel a state to recognize the marriage licenses of another state, that would be the proper time for me to consider new legislative or constitutional approaches.
The author ? Ron Paul back in 2004
In response, Kip made this point that I find hard to refute:
Libertarians do not invoke history â€” especially the history of religion â€” as a justification for anti-gay bigotry or unfair and unequal treatment under law.
Libertarians do not pretend that discrimination, the suppression of individual rights or the betrayal of the principles of the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments are any “better” when they occur at the state level rather than at the federal level. Libertarians understand that “states’ rights” is an insolent fiction: individuals have rights; states have powers â€” powers that they can and do abuse unless properly checked.
Finally, libertarians do not fear the shibboleth of “activist judges” â€” sorry, “rogue judges.” No libertarian fears a judge more than a politician (or bureaucrat). No libertarian fears a federal court more than a state legislature (or city council).
In other words, liberty is liberty whether you’re talking about the state government or the federal government. Congressman Paul’s argument is not the argument of a libertarian, its the argument of a conservative traditionalist.
And its an unfortunate position for someone who so eloquently proclaims liberty to be taking.