Gay Rights

A Recipe for Fusionism Failure: Perestroika Without Glasnost

There has been a lively debate on the UL list serve and on twitter about fusionism and the modern liberty movement.  Let me be clear from the very beginning that I am a proponent of fusionism.  I want to see libertarian ideas become libertarian policies.  I think that libertarianism, for far too long, has been content to rule college classroom debates and think tank discussions and has not done enough to focus on how we actually implement libertarian theory.

I don’t think the real debate is about whether or not libertarians should engage in fusionism, the real debate – exposed clearly in the back and forth with some of my fellow writers at UL over the last few days – is over what that fusionism looks like.

I believe that if the point behind fusionism is to see libertarian ideas become policy, than any fusionism should be based around the achievable.  The common ground we seek should be on those issues where our work with others will actually end up in changing policy in this country.

Right now the American people, and young people in particular, are becoming more and more libertarian when it comes to social issues.  A recent Washington Post poll showed that voters aged 18-29 support same-sex marriage by a staggering 81%-15%.  The same opinion polls show young voters overwhelmingly support ending the failed drug wars and as the recent Rand Paul filibuster showed – there is growing support from every segment of the country to safeguard our civil liberties.

Given that the American people are on our side on these issues, and that winning on these issues is achievable, one would think that libertarian fusion efforts would be centered around these issues.  Alas, there are plenty clamoring for a fusionism that not only ignores these issues, but proposes a fusionism with forces openly hostile for these positions.

Far From Certain If Americans Want To Fix Budget Problems With More Taxes

Ezra Klein

Did American voters send a message to Washington in November, the message that they want to fix the budget deficit through higher taxes? That’s what Ezra Klein of the Washington Post has recently written, claiming Americans not only “moved the goalposts” on the sequester, but they actually want taxes to go up:

Think back to July 2011. The problem was simple. Republicans wouldn’t agree to raise the debt ceiling without trillions of dollars in deficit reduction. Democrats wouldn’t agree to trillions of dollars in deficit reduction if it didn’t include significant tax increases. Republicans wouldn’t agree to significant tax increases. The political system was at an impasse, and in a few short days, that impasse would create a global financial crisis.

The sequester was a punt. The point was to give both sides a face-saving way to raise the debt ceiling even though the tax issue was stopping them from agreeing to a deficit deal. The hope was that sometime between the day the sequester was signed into law (Aug. 2, 2011) and the day it was set to go into effect (Jan. 1, 2013), something would…change.

So far, so good. Klein is correct that the sequester was a complete punt, but then again I don’t know anyone who would really disagree with that. However, after this bit, he starts to go off the rails:

There were two candidates to drive that change. The first and least likely was the supercommittee. If they came to a deal that both sides accepted, they could replace the sequester. They failed.

Despite Obama’s second term, there is light at the end of the tunnel

As the presidential inauguration comes upon us today, I can’t help but think that we’re seeing Bush’s fourth term. Barack Obama, while talking up a good liberal game on international peace and social issues, is really quite similar to his Republican predecessor. He has widely broadened the use of drones pioneered with Bush 43. His signing of the NDAA act authorizing indefinite detention is merely a sequel to the PATRIOT Act Bush signed in 2001. And his recent executive orders on guns have elicited much the same outrage from conservatives that liberals had over Bush’s signing statements.

Combined with staying the course on military spending, staying the course on not making any significant reforms to entitlements, staying the course on the War on Drugs, and staying the course on corporate bailouts…

…and I’m wondering if George W. Bush ever left.

Certainly, there are differences. George W. Bush championed a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, while the Obama Administration has just given up on defending the Defense of Marriage Act. Obama is also far more supportive of a woman’s right to choose, while George W. Bush was pro-life (mostly). But on nearly all other issues, ranging from torture, to war, to government spending, our 44th president is little more than an “expansion pack” to our 43rd — doing the same things, only worse.

Lew Rockwell: Bad For The Liberty Movement, Period

Over the weekend, I wrote a powerful rant on my personal blog about Lew Rockwell and his destructive influence over the liberty movement. I’m not going to lie, it is filled with obscenities and is generally NSFW (though the only image is one of Lew’s face.) I wrote it so…colorfully…because I have been incredibly frustrated with a man who paints himself as the patron saint of libertarianism, the prelate of so-called freedom who is so quick to excommunicate anyone who disagrees with his own idiosyncracies. (I was also inspired by a NFL kicker’s letter to a Maryland state senator over the topic of same-sex marriage…among other things.)

There have been a few who are interested in a less avant-garde takedown of Rockwell, though, one better suited for polite company, and I am only too happy to oblige. I really feel that a man like Rockwell does not deserve such treatment, but I’m in the market of ideas, and I have customers to support.

The item that sent me on a tirade was a blog post on the Lew Rockwell blog calling Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson a “warmonger” because he dared to say thanks to our military. Now you can have legitimate criticisms of the military and their unwavering, blind support from a large number of Americans, but calling Johnson a “warmonger” is too far and uncalled for. But it wasn’t even that; it was that the blog post labeled 9/11 a false flag operation.

In other words, Lew Rockwell’s blog is now the home of 9/11 Truthers. (Or Troofers.)

Why Paul Ryan is bad for libertarianism

Paul Ryan

By now most have given their opinion of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate. In all of the commentary I have noticed a disturbing trend: grassroots conservatives and some libertarians think there is an upside to the pick.

Most notably for me is Corie Whalen’s praise of Romney’s pick as “victory…on an intellectual level.” Corie’s view is that the Paul Ryan post-VP pick contrasts that of the other Paul Ryan, with the former being more libertarian-ish than the latter. Her theory - and it sounds nice - is that Congressman Ryan will sow the seeds of a more libertarian populace by introducing and articulating certain ideas more favorable to free markets and sensible fiscal policy. She goes on to admit that Ryan’s voting record during his tenure in congress has been anything but libertarian.

I’m used to people falling for a candidate’s rhetoric without actually analyzing their record, but to have someone admit that a candidate’s record is abhorrent yet praise them for their rhetoric is…strange. But does Corie have a point? His record aside, is Paul Ryan’s rhetoric good for libertarianism?

No even close, because libertarianism at its heart is anti-rhetoric. Libertarianism concerns itself with actions not words. Libertarianism rejects politics as usual in favor of principled representatives who will walk the walk. Paul Ryan can talk a pretty talk, but he does not have the record to match his rhetoric.

When people become enamored purely with rhetoric they place inadequate stock into actions. Until this trend is reversed, politicians will continue to contort themselves to fit the need and say whatever it takes to get elected; until this behavior is rejected by the populace, libertarianism will not flourish.

Gay Marriage Opponents Just Don’t Seem To Get The Issue

same-sex marriage

Every day there is another diatribe on gay marriage from opponents of the idea. They think they can unravel it, show how it is just simply wrong and should not even be considered. Most of these pieces are just conservative writers flailing around, weeping and gnashing their teeth as the country more and more grows to understand gays and lesbians and give them the same rights heterosexuals have.

So along comes this current piece, which starts off interestingly, claiming the use of reason:

If you’re actually reading this article, I’ll be surprised. Because it’s about homosexuality, and when it comes to arguing about homosexuality, the ground rules are different for conservatives and liberals. Strangely enough, we’ve gotten to a point where liberals are allowed to use reason, and conservatives are not — even in conservative publications.

Okay, so you’re going to use reason. I dig it—though I’m skeptical of how reason will lead anyone to conclude that same-sex marriage should be banned. But let’s take this one step at a time:

Here’s how it works. When gay activists go after Christians and a place like Chick-fil-A, which supports traditional marriage, they make an argument that strikes right at the heart of the Bible. They argue, as Noah Michelson recently did in The Huffington Post, that,

A Grand Bargain on Social Issues

Simpsons -- Gay Marriage

Last week, my colleague Brian Lehman wrote a great post on gay marriage, offering up a deal for social conservatives in order to ease some of the tension over it. I would like to sweeten the pot, a bit, if that’s possible.

For a long time, we’ve had the right and left wings in this country ignore the pressing issues of our time—crushing debt, a horribly mangled tax code, an economy infested with out of control cronyism and regulation, a monetary system that isn’t working, dismantled civil liberties, and looming entitlements that threaten to wash away all of our prosperity in a megatsunami of unfunded liabilities—to focus instead on issues such as gay marriage, abortion, Islamic mosques, and whether or not Barack Obama is a neo-marxist anti-colonialist Kenyan who wasn’t born in the United States (and ate a dog in Indonesia when he was five.) Oh, and Chick-Fil-A.

Because of this more important things we should be focusing on, and because we need to do something about them today, I would like to put forward a “grand bargain” of sorts between conservatives and liberals, so we can put the social issues conflict to rest. It basically involves a trade, and while I know nobody is going to be 100% happy with it, I think it will lead to overall better happiness. (Paging Jeremy Bentham.)

The bargain is such: in exchange for conservatives dropping opposition to same-sex marriage, liberals will tone down their crusade for abortion.

The Boy Scouts of America’s Gay Decision


As an Eagle Scout, I follow the BSA policy controversy towards homosexual scouts only occasionally. For me, the big issue was never that—I am not gay, and I do not know any Scouts or potential scouts who were or are gay—for me it was the religion. I’m an atheist, which is the one theologica position that the Boy Scouts actively frown upon. (I was forced to get a religious “medal” in the United Methodist Church, and the last point in the Scout Law is that a scout is to be “reverant.”)

However, I have gay friends, and I have always thought that the BSA’s policy towards homosexuals was, in a word, disappointing. And now that they’ve finished their review, they’re keeping the same disappointing policy:


After a confidential two-year review, the Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday emphatically reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays, ruling out any changes despite relentless protest campaigns by some critics.

An 11-member special committee, formed discreetly by top Scout leaders in 2010, “came to the conclusion that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts,” the organization’ national spokesman, Deron Smith, told The Associated Press.

Smith said the committee, comprised of professional scout executives and adult volunteers, was unanimous in its conclusion — preserving a long-standing policy that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 and has remained controversial ever since.

As a result of the committee’s decision, the Scouts’ national executive board will take no further action on a recently submitted resolution asking for reconsideration of the membership policy.

Jim DeMint is No Friend of Libertarianism

There has been an interesting an important back and forth on this site over the issue of fusionism.  Jeremy Kolassa made the case that little, if anything, has been accomplished by fusionism. In response, Jason Pye defended fusionism, citing a litany of conservative leaders and organizations that have been welcoming of libertarians and advanced libertarian policy.

I think both authors make well thought out cases and I think this debate is a healthy one.  My post isn’t intended to weigh in on the general question of fusionism, clearly I am a believe in fusionism - though I recognize that there are times when fusionism is a loser for libertarians.  Instead, I wanted to specifically speak to an individual that my friend Jason Pye pointed to as an example of a conservative leader who has offered an “olive branch” to libertarians:  South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint.

I respect and like Jason a ton (which you know always is going to preface a disagreement), but in this case Jason is simply wrong.  Jim DeMint is no friend of libertarians - unless, of course, you toss out gay people or anyone else who cares about gay people from the libertarian movement.

Jason cited the Mike Huckabees and Rick Santorums of the world as responsible for trying to keep libertarians out of CPAC.  Well the ugly truth is that Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have been down right welcoming compared to Jim DeMint - as it regards CPAC.  Indeed, Jim DeMint officially joined a boycott of CPAC because of the inclusion of a gay group - GOProud - that I helped co-found.

Top GOP Pollster Tells GOP To Wake Up

Andrew Sullivan posted this fascinating memo over the weekend from a top Republican pollster to Republican party officials and candidates about same-sex marriage. In short, here are its conclusions:

Recommendation: A statement reflecting recent developments on this issue along the following lines:

“People who believe in equality under the law as a fundamental principle, as I do, will agree that this principle extends to gay and lesbian couples; gay and lesbian couples should not face discrimination and their relationship should be protected under the law. People who disagree on the fundamental nature of marriage can agree, at the same time, that gays and lesbians should receive essential rights and protections such as hospital visitation, adoption rights, and health and death benefits.”

That’s right, folks: the GOP should embrace same-sex marriage.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the GOP needs to drop the social conservatism angle if it intends to survive as a viable party.

By all means, if it wants to become the Constitution Party, it may continue to demonize gays and lesbians and agitate against people who desire abortions. But the longer it does that, the less and less support it will get from the general public.

Gradually, Americans have realized that gays and lesbians are people too, and deserve to be treated equally under the law. While I still don’t like having the government stick its hand into marriages, as long as it does, homosexuals and bisexuals should receive equal treatment as heterosexuals do.

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