Libertarian Principle and Marriage Equality

The press of the last few days has been full of presumed conservative successes in the wake of McCain’s choice of would be conservative heroine Sarah Palin as his running mate.  Richard Viguerie even suggested that Palin would energize Libertarians to rally around the ticket – a statement that strikes me as completely bizarre.   I think we need to remind the conservatives among us that Libertarians are not just short-pants Republicans. The reason we have been so successful in the past year has not been our new found pragmatism, though that is important.  The reason for our success this year is the many years of sticking to principle and meticulously building  a vision of the future where everyone  – EVERYONE – has the same opportunity for peace, prosperity and liberty and where those in power do not use government to make winners out of their friends and losers out of their enemies.  For the first time in my memory – we are winning.  We are winning because of principle.  This is not the time water down the message.


This is a great time to remember that because this Sunday Sep 14, Marriage Equality New York (MENY)  will hold their Wedding March In the face of ghastly attempts to make marriage the business of the federal government via legislation or even constitutional amendments defining marriage, or to even to make it the business of state governments, Libertarians must put a stake in the ground and make it clear that government has no business in marriage whatsoever.  That means any “contract” between consenting adults must be enforced by government equally regardless of, among the long list of characteristics, gender and sexual identity. 


Libertarians differ in their opinions on marriage equality as they do on many issues.  However, in my opinion there is broad support among libertarians for the idea that government has no business regulating marriage at all, but as long as government grants certain rights and responsibilities based on marriage, they must be applied without discrimination in the absence of force or fraud.


When asked whether private agreements among partners achieved the same result, Cathy Marino, MENY’s Executive Director explained, that other methods of private agreement such as wills can be contested and that the only way to make another person your legal next-of-kin was civil marriage. 


Marino said –

“New York has historically been in the forefront of providing all its citizens equal access to the rights and protections afforded by the state. The Wedding March serves as a reminder, from state to state and nationally, that this important civil rights issue will only be rectified when the legalized discrimination ends”


You could argue that another alternative is close enough – but it shouldn’t be close enough for principled Libertarians.  Our most important asset is our principle and if we abandon that principle we may as well just vote for the lesser of the two evils – if you can figure out which that is.


I am proud to say the Manhattan Libertarian Party continued our tradition of “no-compromise – pro-freedom” actions in August when we approved the following resolution:

Resolved: The Manhattan Libertarian Party opposes any legislation, at any level of government, that seeks to define, to regulate, or to interfere with the marital relationships between consenting adults, or that seeks to dictate, prohibit, control, encourage or discourage any private lifestyle, living arrangement or contractual relationship: nor should any government have the right to grant or deny rights, privileges, or benefits based on sexual identity.

This weekend’s Wedding March will be a great opportunity to show some principled leadership on an issue that has remained an issue far too long.   The March will start at 11am from City Hall Park and end with a picnic and a lot of entertainment at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn. I hope to see many principled Libertarians there.

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