Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors - and miss.”     Robert A. Heinlein,    Time Enough For Love

October 22, 2007

Ron Paul On Gay Marriage

by Doug Mataconis

At last night’s debate:

Well, if you believe in federalism, it’s better that we allow these things to be left to the state. My personal belief is that marriage is a religious ceremony. And it should be dealt with religiously. The state really shouldn’t be involved. The state, both federal and state-wise, got involved mostly for health reasons 100 years or so ago.

But this should be a religious matter. All voluntary associations, whether they’re economic or social, should be protected by the law. But to amend the Constitution is totally unnecessary to define something that’s already in the dictionary.

We do know what marriage is about. We don’t need a new definition or argue over a definition and have an amendment to the Constitution. To me, it just seems so unnecessary to do that. It’s very simply that the states should be out of that business, and the states — I mean, the states should be able to handle this. The federal government should be out of it.

At the beginning, Paul gets it completely right. The government — federal, state, and local — should be out of the marriage business, compeltely and totally. I have argued much the same thing in other posts here at The Liberty Papers here and here:

Here’s my proposal. Get rid of civil marriage licenses entirely. Let people decide for themselves what they believe about marriage and let them, if they wish solemnize that union in a church of their choice. We are hundreds of years past the day where the state was involved in religious affairs, it doesn’t need to be involved in this matter either.

That’s what Paul seems to say at the beginning, but then he turns it into solely a Federalism issue and argues that the states should have the right to regulate marriage. While he is correct that the Federal Government should not have a role in defining marriage, conceding that the states should have such a role concedes far too much ground to the anti-gay marriage theocrats.

TrackBack URI: http://www.thelibertypapers.org/2007/10/22/ron-paul-on-gay-marriage/trackback/
Read more posts from
• • •

37 Comments

  1. So he’s gone from radical anti-gay bigot to vote-chasing flip-flopper.

    Remind me again how he’s “not just another politician”?

    Comment by KipEsquire — October 22, 2007 @ 12:20 pm
  2. Again, I agree at the high level but have a reservation at the low level. Yes, the state should not be intruding into the issue of marriage. However, a marriage is a kind of contract and the state does provide a useful service in defining contracts so as to minimize litigation. Thus, I am proposing that the state approach marriage the same way that it approaches partnerships, corporations, mortgages, and so forth. You go to a lawyer to get a marriage contract set up. You don’t need a license, you just need a contract. If you don’t get a contract, then when you divorce it’s rather like dying intestate: you get the default contract.

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 22, 2007 @ 12:28 pm
  3. There is nothing in that link that is anti-gay or bigoted.
    There is nothing wrong with a state being pro- or anti- gay marriage. The federal government has no say in that matter unless we pass a constitutional amendment on the subject.
    That is all he is saying in those links. With perhaps the caveat of the “Defense of Marriage act” which I have not read so I cannot say one way or the other on.

    Comment by B.Young — October 22, 2007 @ 12:31 pm
  4. KIP!! Do some research and report back without your smearing. Ron Paul has never changed his stance on marriage and throwing names and ridicule doesn’t help your cause. Ron Paul is trying to limit Federal Governments role in our lives, and leaving it to the state’s is the only way. If you live in a state that doesn’t have your choice as a law, then you can move. The feds being in charge don’t give you that choice. Look at his record and repent for calling him a flip-flopper, and quit taking some knitwit’s word for everything and do your own research.

    You will then see “why he’s not just another politician”. How about instead you prove that your not just another one of the AmeriKan Sheeple and look into his stances and listen to the man speak. His voting record is spotless for small government and protecting our liberties.

    Who is Ron Paul and how’s he going to save our country?

    Check it out for yourself.

    www. ron Paul 2008. c o m
    google: Ron Paul
    Youtube: Ron Paul

    Do some research people!

    Comment by DaleinOklahoma — October 22, 2007 @ 1:35 pm
  5. Dale,

    If you read the link that Kip left and other things that he’s written about this issue I think maybe you’d understand where it’s coming from.

    As I understand his argument, Kip disagrees with Paul’s position that the marriage issue should be left to the states strictly on Federalism grounds and takes the position that laws forbidding homosexuals to obtain civil marriage licenses are a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

    Frankly, I agree with him. The states shouldn’t be free to ban gay marriage anymore than they should be free to establish an official church.

    Realistically, I think it will be quite some time before the Federal Courts get the courage to do what’s right.

    (Kip, if I’ve mis-stated your position, please clarify it)

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 22, 2007 @ 1:41 pm
  6. Government is never perfect. But at the state level, the people have a greater voice AND if one state does not satisfy you, you can move to another state.

    We have had states legalize gay marriage and medical marijuana to just have it turned around by the feds and that’s really wrong and Ron Paul stands to change those wrongs.

    YAY RON PAUL 2008, he’s my man, I’m voting for him.

    Already sent in my registration to change to Republican so that I can vote for him in the Primary, suggest you do the same, otherwise you will support Clinton who will only continue the war and bankruptcy of our nation.

    Comment by Roger The Okcitykid — October 22, 2007 @ 1:52 pm
  7. I have read everything I could find from the desk of Ron Paul and I have only seen him visit this gay marriage issue when questioned and he really handles it off the top of his head based on his values.

    He has obviously given it all of the attention the question deserves. Marriage is clearly a union of a man and a woman from the perspective of history and not the magnifying glass of gay rights activists.

    A gay couple is not going to bear children like in a union of a heterosexual couple so a marriage is not happening in the first place. It is clearly a civil union and the gay rights activists should just deal with the fact that their union in the eyes of the world is not going to be what has for many thousands of years been called a marriage.

    This is really an issue that the state should not be involved in. If a union has the potential to bear children then the couple needs to be married for the sake of the potential off spring for delineation of their inheritance rights as well as property rights issues. That is the main reason for marriage in the first place. The issue is only recently confused because of the potential of gay female couples who artificially inseminate one or both partners so that they can satisfy their mothering instincts without need for a man in the house. If this procedure was not available the gay marriage issue would truly be a non issue.

    Comment by libertyman — October 22, 2007 @ 2:19 pm
  8. Doug, I agree with you here, at least in that states should not be able to ban same-gender marriage in the same way the feds shouldn’t. DOMA is unconstitutional in its face for First Amendment Free Association and Exercise grounds and 14th Amendment Equal Protection laws.

    The only thing I would add is that historically, marriage licenses came into being post-civil war as an anti-miscengenation (sp?) law. That’s right, it was racist in origin. So by advocating getting rid of marriage licenses, Dr. Paul is also adovcating getting rid of racist laws. Nothing wrong with that in the slightest.

    Two other details: A) if a marriage is between a couple and their god (whomever that is according to their beliefs), then where in there is room in there for the state? B) if marriage is truly about love and commitment, and it is, then, forgive the bluntness what does one’s anatomy have to do with it?

    Comment by Tannim — October 22, 2007 @ 2:54 pm
  9. Each State should be able to decide what legally binding civil unions it will allow. Paul’s singular message is that the Fed should NOT be in the business of regulating those legal issues as that is a State’s right. The framers of our republic rightly constructed that it was our choice as citizens of this “union of States” to decide what State to live in and, through our participation in the legislation of that State, decide how we wanted to govern ourselves.

    No matter what the laws in Nevada say, I still can’t visit a legal brothel here in Illinios; I am still beholden to the law of the State that I am in. And so it is the same with marriage. Marriage is a moral arrangement governed by societal mores. Civil unions are legal arrangements made by two people. States decide this, the Federal government should not usurp those rights. Paul was only making that distinction.

    Hate him or love him… at the very least he’s doing his best to live up to the oath that he took when he accepted the job of public office – “to uphold the Constitution of the United States.” Obviously, he takes that more seriously than the others that we elected to govern us in Congress or the White House. Serving the public first before your own self interest is what public service should be about. It’s too bad there are so few left who live that oath.

    “…man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.”
    Ronald Reagan

    Comment by Greg — October 22, 2007 @ 2:57 pm
  10. Tannim,

    The only problem is that if you read what Paul has written before — especially a few of the columns he’s written on the issue for the Paleo-Libs over at Lew Rockwell’s site — it’s all about the Federalism issue and letting the states do what they want and virtually no discussion of the fact that no government should be interfering in private relationships in this way.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 22, 2007 @ 2:57 pm
  11. Greg,

    What right does the state of, say, Georgia, have to tell two men or two women that they can’t get married ?

    There are two alternatives really

    Either the states get out of the marriage business entirely — meaning they stop issuing marriage licenses to anyone and stop giving any preferential legal benefits to married couples.

    Or

    They let any consenting adult who wants to get married to do so and give them the same benefits as any other married couple.

    From a libertarian point of view, there are no other alternatives that i can see.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 22, 2007 @ 2:59 pm
  12. Doug,

    States do not need to issue marraige licenses, but should recognize any legal contract drawn up between two people. Having said that, all rewards for marraige should be scrapped immediately, as there is little need to incentivize something that’s occured for thousands of years without government benefits. However, if you’re like my father who believes that ridding the government of these subsidies is impossible and therefore the only choice is to be anti-gay marraige, then you’ve essentially trapped us in a whirlpool of prejudice that there is no way out. Ron Paul has it right, but I’m afraid too many people will say that while he is right, he can’t make things right, therefore he is wrong and should be punished.

    Comment by Greg #2 — October 22, 2007 @ 3:14 pm
  13. Doug,

    You are so correct. A “marriage license” is really a legal union which is essentially a binding contract between two people. A divorce is nothing but a dissillution of that legal binding. Let’s call it what it is and leave the semantics to those who want to split hairs.
    Whether those two parties are male/female, male/male or female/female is for the State to decide. (I would personally hope that the restrictions that the State that I live in places on these contracts would ignore gender and concentrate on other factors that will create more sucessful legal unions. But that is for me as a citizen of that state to decide.) The founders allowed for each state to choose, even their religion if they so desired. Seperation of church and state in the First Amendment was meant at the Federal level (Congress) and our Union should not be beholden to any Federal state sponsored religion. Between Article I S.10 and Article IV, tremendous leway is given to the States to pretty much do as they please as long as there is no conflict between their laws and the scant powers given to the Fed to protect us physically, financially and globally as a Union. Such is the power of liberty.

    Just as I don’t want the Fed to restrict my morality, I don’t want my state to do the same; but if the citizens of my state decide to enact laws that I can not live with, it is my right to relocate. The beauty of having States is that the diversity in this Union can be realized. If I wanted a homogonized society, I would move to Japan or Russia. I prefer the diversity. I prefer the choice.

    As a Liberpublican, I would personally agree with you that I want my State to allow unions (marriages.. whatever you want to call them) between any two humans. If you want to get “married” to someone all dressed up in a church or naked on the grass under the stars, have at it, but don’t expect it to be legally binding unless you register your contract with the State. And certainly DON’T legislate your morality on me through a Constitutional Ammendment. If only I could find a Liberpublican State! Ron Paul is running for the FEDERAL Presidency and his entire point is that liberty is most restricted when the Federal government grows and overlays morality on the Union. We must shake this mantle and return to the freedoms that the Constitution promises.

    Comment by Greg — October 22, 2007 @ 4:04 pm
  14. Greg,

    While you give a nice explanation of the current state of the law, you haven’t answered the question I posed:

    What right does the state of, say, Georgia, have to tell two men or two women that they can’t get married ?

    If it’s wrong for the Federal Government to do it, why is it not equally wrong for the state government to do it ?

    What is it about the acts of the legislature of a given state that sanctifies them to such an extent that they are allowed to violate basic human liberty ?

    Because I just don’t get it.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 22, 2007 @ 4:14 pm
  15. Greg,

    I would also note that any citation to Constitutional authority on this issue is severely weakened by the 14th Amendment, which imposes on the states the obligation to respect each citizens “life, liberty, or property.”

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 22, 2007 @ 4:16 pm
  16. While he is correct that the Federal Government should not have a role in defining marriage, conceding that the states should have such a role concedes far too much ground to the anti-gay marriage theocrats.

    He’s not perfect. Surprise, Surprise.

    Elect Paul and we stop the bleeding. The groundwork will be laid for even better presidents in the future. Elect anyone else and the death spiral continues and the house of cards might just crash before we get another chance to fix it.

    “I support Paul, but…”
    “I support Paul, but…”
    “I support Paul, but…”

    Bitch, bitch, bitch. If your daily hand-wringing is actually genuine, I feel sorry for your family.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — October 22, 2007 @ 4:19 pm
  17. Jeff,

    This is a legitimate point of disagreement and, frankly, one worth discussing. I’d hardly call it bitching.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 22, 2007 @ 4:29 pm
  18. I once dated a girl that was never satisfied. It didn’t matter what the occasion, she felt something could be even better and she felt compelled to tell everyone exactly how she felt even if doing so would make the situation even worse than it already was.

    Everyone agreed: She was a bitch who constantly bitched, even if she happened to be right from time to time.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — October 22, 2007 @ 4:35 pm
  19. Ron Paul explains what marriage is, how the government became involved, and why he personally doesn’t believe it should be involved. The simple answer at the federal level is to leave it to the states as outlined in the Constitution. You could make the same case with state driver’s licenses, but you don’t hear presidential candidates talking about eliminating those. He is not running for Governor of Texas, he is running for President of the US. Let’s take this one step at a time.

    Comment by brody — October 22, 2007 @ 4:37 pm
  20. Brody,

    Then the question is still relevant, because it would go to the issue of what kind of judges he would appoint.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 22, 2007 @ 4:46 pm
  21. Jeff,

    I am neither a sycophant nor a campaign lackey. I like a lot of what Ron Paul says, but I disagree with some of it — and I’m going to point those disagreements out when appropriate just as much as I criticize Giuliani, Huckabee, Romney and the rest.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 22, 2007 @ 4:47 pm
  22. 3 Months ago I didn’t know who Ron Paul was, now I’m counting the months to caucus. Rather than deciding to vote against the person I don’t want to have the job and work their agendas, I will be voting FOR someone. I am voting to reaffirm the Constitution and Bill of Rights! Ron Paul should have the highest federal office because, like the reluctant general, he knows it has to be done. A vote for Ron Paul is a vote to restore the republic! In an age when distrust of politicians is so high, why would we continue to let them drag us toward their think-tank, secret-society agendas. If we can’t stop them taking our republic, let’s at least put a speedbump on the well-paved road they’ve made for themselves.

    Comment by mike — October 22, 2007 @ 4:50 pm
  23. I’m going to point those disagreements out when appropriate just as much as I criticize Giuliani, Huckabee, Romney and the rest.

    LOL. That’s some pretty easy BS to call, Doug.

    “Giuliani, Huckabee, Romney and the rest” spent two hours spewing crap last night.

    Where are the threads pointing out your disagreements with them?

    Comment by Jeff Molby — October 22, 2007 @ 4:52 pm
  24. Search for Giuliani’s name in the search box on the left.

    Read and enjoy.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 22, 2007 @ 5:03 pm
  25. Search for Giuliani’s name in the search box on the left.

    Did that. Paul comes up more than the rest of the candidates combined and all but a few of the Paul posts end with a vintage Mataconis “I like him but…”

    More to the point, though, Jason Pye was the only one to post on the debate as a whole. You, however, chose to nitpick one portion of one issue of one candidate.

    You didn’t even have the decency to compare Paul’s statement to those of the other candidates who received the same question.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — October 22, 2007 @ 5:21 pm
  26. Jeff,

    Because the other candidates are all homophobes anyway, we know where they stand.

    And I tend to hold someone who calls themselves a libertarian to higher standards when it comes to issues like this.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 22, 2007 @ 6:28 pm
  27. Fair enough. So why did it take all of this back and forth for you to acknowledge that he’s still damn sight better than the rest of ‘em?

    You temper every bit of positive news with something pessimistic. If your goal is really just to be an honest purveyor of news and analysis, I would expect the negative pieces to be tempered with something positive.

    If you had simply said “…but at least he’s not a homophobe like the rest of the candidates”, I wouldn’t have raised a single objection.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — October 22, 2007 @ 6:55 pm
  28. I believe Dr. Paul states that the states should handle it because they are delegated the power by the tenth amendment to the US Constitution.

    Having said that, I don’t think he believes that the states should be regulating it either. He says “marriage is a religious ceremony. And it should be dealt with religiously. The state really shouldn’t be involved.” This to me says that he thinks marriage is not the business of the government. He also states “All voluntary associations, whether they’re economic or social, should be protected by the law.” That would include unions that couples (heterosexual or homosexual) agree to enter into.

    Comment by Chip — October 22, 2007 @ 10:10 pm
  29. As a gay man, and Libertarian Party activist, I like to ask people how Ron Paul has earned my vote.

    I haven’t heard a really good answer yet. Usually, it’s either sanctimonious dismissal of the LP, or gay people followed up with a “sure, Ron Paul isn’t perfect, but he’s the best we’ve got” point.

    However, the same people shouting out that point don’t believe it themselves. If a “Ron Paul clone” existed — one who advocated a full libertarian platform on everything (including gay marriage unlike Ron Paul), but who wanted, say, national single-payer government health care or mandatory confiscation of all handguns, would they support him?

    Would they say “oh, well, he’s bad on that point, but it’s a minor issue and he’s the best chance we’ve got, stop bitching!”

    Of course they wouldn’t. They’d assail him at every opportunity.

    Which just underscores the dishonesty of that argument.

    The reality is, Ron Paul gives his supporters everything *they* want, and supports the bits of the constitution that benefits *them*. However, he doesn’t support all of the constitution, and his program doesn’t benefit LGBTQ people — Libertarians or otherwise — to the degree that an LP candidate’s will.

    So Ron Paul hasn’t earned my vote. And until he starts supporting the *entire* constitution, rather than just the bits and pieces that he likes, he will continue to fail to win the support of people who accept the entire constitution.

    Comment by Brian Miller — October 24, 2007 @ 4:03 pm
  30. Brian,

    Actually, Paul is supportive of voluntary associations of all kinds (which includes gay marriage). He hasn’t pushed for legislation on it one way or the other at the federal level because he doesn’t believe it’s a power reserved for the federal government (therefore unconstitutional), it’s an issue for the voters of each state to decide for themselves. He introduced the “We The People Act” in 2005 to remove the federal government from the process of deliberation on gay marriage (he also voted against the federal ban on gay marriage, also on the grounds that it’s not an issue for the feds to decide). Whatever you think his personal views on the subject of homosexuality may be, he’s done more for equal rights (for both straight and gay) than any other candidate you’re likely to find in this presidential race.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 24, 2007 @ 6:10 pm
  31. As for cred with the gay rights crowd, Justin Raimondo supports Ron Paul for president, which he’d be unlikely to do if Paul was hostile to the rights of people simply because they were homosexual.

    As for the whole “gay rights” issue, it’s actually a bit of a red herring in discussing Paul’s platform. Paul isn’t for “gay rights” or “minority rights” or rights for any other collective group. He’s for individual rights, regardless of what group those individuals choose to affiliate with. And part of his platform for individual rights is to allow individuals to voluntarily interact as they choose so long as they aren’t harming anyone else. See how this works in your (and everyone else’s) favor on the issue, Brian?

    Comment by UCrawford — October 24, 2007 @ 6:16 pm
  32. Crawford,

    Then why does the Cong. seem to think its okay if, say, the state of Alabama decided to tell homosexuals that they werent entitled to something that every heterosexual is, specifically the right to be married and the civil benefits that flow from that institution ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 24, 2007 @ 6:28 pm
  33. Doug,

    Ummm, because according to our Constitution states have more power to interfere in individuals’ rights than the federal government does and many Congressmen are scumbag fucks who are okay with taking a bigoted position on an issue they have no real influence on if they think it’ll convince stupid people to vote for them?

    What does it matter? The question was about Ron Paul, not Congress in general, and Paul is on the record as being supportive of allowing people the right to do things consensually.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 24, 2007 @ 9:24 pm
  34. Crawford

    First of all, as I said in my original post, this isn’t an argument about what the Constitution may or may nor permit, it’s an argument about individual liberty. Tyranny can exist at the state level just as it can exist at the Federal Level.

    And the problem that some have pointed out with the position that Paul has taken on this issue is that he emphasizes Federalism and allowing the states to do what they want with marriage and de-emphasizes the individual liberties of the people impacted by those bigoted state laws. And this seems to be supported by some of his own writings on this issue over at Lew Rockwell’s blog.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 24, 2007 @ 9:44 pm
  35. Crawford,

    I’d also point out that there is a strong 14th Amendment argument in favor of the proposition that state laws against same-sex marriage should be unconstitutional.

    Supporting the Defense of Marriage Act, or taking the position that the Federal Courts should not be allowed to rule on this issue, which seems to be suggested by some of Paul’s writings on this issue that I’ve read, could therefore be seen as inconsistent with the Constitution in addition to being inconsistent with a belief in individual liberty.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — October 24, 2007 @ 9:46 pm
  36. Doug,

    As far as I’m concerned statutes against gay marriage are wrong at any level, same as any laws against consensual activity that doesn’t harm anyone else are wrong. I was only answering Brian’s question about Ron Paul’s position. He’s not pushing to legalize gay marriage because he doesn’t believe it’s a question the federal government has jurisdiction over and he’s running for a federal office. Here’s Paul’s own comment on this issue:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul207.html

    If you want to believe that means Ron Paul hates gay people and wants to strip them of their rights, whatever…I’ll trust Raimondo’s judgment on it over the judgment of someone who’s lately demonstrating an almost pathological need to find fault with Paul’s campaign.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 25, 2007 @ 2:01 am
  37. And if you want to oppose tyranny at the state level, fine…go bitch about the candidates running for state office on anti-gay platforms. They’re the ones relevant to what states will do on the gay marriage issue, not Ron Paul.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 25, 2007 @ 2:03 am

Comments RSS

Subscribe without commenting

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by: WordPress • Template by: Eric • Banner #1, #3, #4 by Stephen Macklin • Banner #2 by Mark RaynerXML