Libertarian Party of California Backs Domestic Partnership Initiative

The Libertarian Party of California is now formally endorsing a proposed state measure, the Domestic Partnership Initiative. This would sweep up all mentions of the word “marriage” in California law and statute, and replace it with the word “domestic partnership.” Here’s an excerpt:

Under the proposal, legal rights for all domestic partners, in same or opposite sex partnerships, would be identical and would include the rights currently afforded to married persons. Marriages would become a matter for religious and other civil institutions rather than a province of the state. Supporters need approximately 700,000 signatures by August 8, 2009 to have the initiative proposed constitutional amendment and statute placed on the 2010 ballot.

You can read the full article here. Source: Globe News Wire.

60 thoughts on “Libertarian Party of California Backs Domestic Partnership Initiative

  1. Eternaverse

    Oh yes, lets make government-backed social engineering EQUAL for everyone. While this is a (very small) step in the right direction, it isn’t something that libertarians should support because the focus of this initiative is not lessening the power of the state.

  2. Thane Eichenauer

    I am all for Rothbardian critiques on any given proposal however eliminating the term marriage from the government law books to me seems like a very good idea. Marriage has a specific meaning in most people’s heads and getting government out of the defining marriage business seems like a good idea. Once people no longer feel like government sanctions marriage or its definition and the gay lobby is happy with being equal before the law then we can all work on really productive discussion and action on proposals to get the US government out of the foreign occupation business.

  3. George Phillies

    The proposed initiative is readily recognized — at least in its larger support — to be part of a Republican conservative effort to defeat efforts to repeal proposition 8. The effort described here functions by dividing support for proposition 8 repeal. LP California Board Member Rob Power vigorously made this point to the LPCA LP State Committee, and resigned his position on the LPCA State Committee at the end of the meeting at which LPCA endorsed this Republican scheme.

  4. John micheil

    Republican idea? that’s just ludicrous, there’s nothing about this initiative that’s republican. Why is it that the far corners of each side (the very religious, and the LGBT special interest groups) both oppose this initiative? I think it has something to do with it threatening to end a cultural war whose continuation the organizations depend on in order to maintain their careers as “activists.” If anything, this is doing the LGBT community a favor by forcing the “republicans” to fight on two fronts. I Think Mr. Phillies needs to view things from both sides before making generalized comments, because I’m sure there’s a Mr. John Smith somewhere calling this a “liberal scheme” somewhere.

  5. rah62

    A Republican idea? That’s ridiculous! Republicans are lining up to oppose this initiative because it would remove the enshrined word “marriage” from our CA constitution. This initiative is a wholeheartedly libertarian idea, and deserves wholehearted LPCA support.

  6. sunshinebatman

    In a Heinleinian 5-way California non/marriage, do all five spouses retain fifth amendment rights not to incriminate each other in court testimony?

    What is LPCa’s position on spousal privilege in the legal system vis-a-vis its advocacy for other changes to state marital law?

  7. John micheil

    well if you read the actual proposed legislation, it specifically states “COUPLES” so there would be not 5-ways

  8. John micheil

    I would really appreciate it if people would read up on stuff before making statements (very republican of you)

  9. sunshinebatman

    That’s racist against polyamorists. Polyamorophobia is out of control in his country. I blame the Dixiecrats.

  10. sunshinebatman

    When will LPCa free themselves of Dixiecrat control and stop sending out these polyamorophobic press releases?

  11. Chris Cole

    I agree that it is a shame to exclude polyamory. On the other hand, this is a BIG step toward separating the family from the state. Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good. Incrementalism, friends.

  12. john micheil

    wow sunshinebatman really is a smart one. I’m pretty sure Racism does not refer to things outside of race (maybe ethnicity). Polyamorists are not part of a race, and thus it is not racism.

  13. Catholic Trotskyist

    I agree with John Michiel and Chris Cole on this. The culture war on this issue must end, it doesn’t matter how, and putting the radicals on both sides together where they belong is a good idea.

  14. Deran

    My, my; how the homphobes do fear. I oppose the removal of marriage from the discourse. I favor marriage equality. Equality. Being something libertarian capitalists oppose, eh? Always hooting on abt the sacredness of the individual. LOL. What rubbish. Do these mythical libertarian capitalist individuals exist each on their own planet?

  15. paulie

    I oppose the removal of marriage from the discourse.

    I think in matters of marriage all should be treated the same, regardless of sexual orientation. But ultimately, why should
    government be approving anyone’s marriage? It’s sort of like having government-approved baptisms and bar mitzvahs.

  16. Allan Wallace

    The law students who started this initiative ARE Republican, and it is backed largely by Republican activists. The fact that republican voters are against it is due much more to the fact that they will be paying Much Higher Taxes for at least 2 years.
    This initiative does NOTHING to separate family from the state. It ONLY separates the word “marriage” from state law, making ALL couples equally 2nd class citizens.
    It has ZERO chance of passing when straight people realize what they will be giving up and what it will cost them in lost tax exemptions.

  17. rah62

    As long as all couples are equal in the eyes of the state, I don’t care if they’re first class, second class, or coach class. This initiative deserves to pass. Marriage has no place in our CA constitution, and I’m thrilled that the LPCA is taking a stand on this.

  18. Michael Seebeck

    Maybe you critics ought to actually A) have been at the meeting in question, B) read the initiative and C) talk to the proponents.

    I have done all three.

    The initiative removes the terminology related to marriage and replaces it with domestic partnerships, and moves gender-specific terms for husband and wife to spouses.

    It also does FAR more than repeal Prop 8.

    It impacts three sections of the state Constitution (including Article 1, Section 7.5) and over 571 separate sections of the California Code, from the expected areas like probate, evidence procedures, to the WTF arcane like shark, swordfish, and herring licenses. (I wish that was an exaggeration, but it isn’t!)

    It moves marriages back into the church where it belongs with the other religious ceremonies and makes the legal contract part the only the thing the state has to worry about.

    It also completely defuses the whole debate over the politicization of a religious and social term: “marriage”. IOW, it gets the state out of marriage, which is EXACTLY the stated libertarian position.

    Whether Rob resigned from the ExComm or not I don’t know, and it really doesn’t matter. But as far as I know, he made no such claim that George says he did. Not only was I there, but I was involved in the entire discussion since I was the one doing the analysis of the proposition for the ExComm. If he stated that, it was later on and not during the meeting.

    And the initiative has NOTHING to do with the May 19 special election either, which has everything to do with the tax extension of Prop 1A, since the domestic proposition initiative would be on the ballot in November. Mr. Wallace needs to get his facts straight.

    Lastly, it will promote marriage equality since all a couple has to do now is find a church or minister that will do the vows, and one can choose to make the vows symbolic (as Lidia and I did on a riverbank in the Rockies some 12 years ago prior to an actual license and church wedding to satisfy the parents) or they can get the DP license and make it legal as well. Their call.

    BTW, current law recognizes Abrahamic-religious marriages, but not Pagan handfastings. This initiative would eliminate that difference as well, furthering religious equality.

    Whether the proponents are Republicans or not is irrelevant. Good ideas are not limited to libertarian lines, even as we feel we have a majority of them.

  19. Rob Power

    With all due respect to Mike Seebeck, he is completely mistaken.

    I most certainly did turn in a resignation letter to the Chair and to the Secretary at the end of the meeting.

    And this initiative is most certainly backed by Republicans. All one has to do is go look at the comments in the Facebook group:

    here’s a sample:

    “I voted Yes on Prop 8 and I have been fully behind this proposition for the past couple months.”

    Please stay tuned for Outright’s press release on this matter. I’ll come back here and post a link. It’s very clear that the LPC ExCom and Legislative Analysis Committee did not do their homework on this. And once Outright’s perspective is published, I think Libertarians across the country will be demanding that the LPC reconsider its vote.

  20. sunshinebatman

    Why did they include handfasting ceremonies, but exclude watersharing ceremonies?!!!

    This unholy alliance of the pagans and the Dixiecrats makes me sick.

  21. Fred Church Ortiz

    It seems a bit odd that the Republicans would push for a measure that would seem to weaken prop 8 after the massive amount of effort they expended to pass it, and in a presumably liberal year. This sounds much more like the CA Court’s ruling last year with DP replacing marriage across the board. I’ll be eagerly awaiting Outright’s commentary.

  22. paulie


    Most plausible explanation I can think of was what Phillies said – dividing the anti-prop H8 people on strategy.

  23. Don Grundmann

    I am pleased to see the Libertarian Party openly telling the married people of California to ” shove it.” The citizens will know that only the Constitution Party, of which the American Independent Party is the California branch, will defend marriage and family.

    Don Grundmann Vice-Chairman American Independent Party, California branch of the Constitution Party

  24. paulie


    Why do marriages and families need the state to defend them?

    Do baptisms and bar mitzvahs need the state to defend them as well?

  25. Michael Seebeck

    Rob, reread what I said @20. I specifically said I did not know if you had resigned or not. I was very careful to indicate what I knew and what I did not.

    I also did not deny the Republican leanings of the proponents. I said it was irrelevant.

  26. Michael Seebeck

    Sunshinebatman, you need to clean the bats from your belfry. Dixiecrats in California make about as much sense as Rockefeller Republicans at Focus on the Family.

    Fred, the Republicans in question are two UCSD college students, not the California Republican Party leadership.

    Don, the Constitution Party will actually be defending marriage when it wakes up and realize that it is best defended by strengthening it, not by limiting it, and by de-politicizing a religious ceremony.

    IOW, to paraphrase a Clinton, it’s the love and commitment, stupid!

  27. Andy

    “Don Grundmann // Mar 30, 2009 at 12:56 am

    I am pleased to see the Libertarian Party openly telling the married people of California to ‘shove it.’ The citizens will know that only the Constitution Party, of which the American Independent Party is the California branch, will defend marriage and family.”

    Why should marriage even be a political issue?

  28. Michael Seebeck

    Rob, I most certainly DID my homework on this one, as I do on all of them. You just happen to disagree with it, which is your opinion. But don’t go questioning my integrity in my volunteer role, when I sure as hell don’t see you or much of anyone else stepping up and doing it at all, let alone better. Did you actually go through and figure out the ramifications of the initiative like I did, or are you so tied into other groups with a potential but yet-unfiled initiative that you are determined to complain about other ideas in favor of your pet one?

    I challenge you to not only produce an analysis on the aspects of the initiative, but its impacts, shortcomings, and especially the benefits.

    More than likely you are more concerned about the ownership of a word as it directly impacts you than you are the rest of the picture.

    BTW, if this gets on the ballot and passes, my own happy marriage of 11+ years gets affected, too. Frankly, my own relationship with my wife far transcends a mere word. The difference is that I’m putting aside my personal biases to give a concise and unbiased picture based on libertarian principles.

  29. paulie

    Dixiecrats in California make about as much sense as Rockefeller Republicans at Focus on the Family.

    But, there are some.

    Dixiecrats in California:

    INLAND EMPIRE # 1742 Inland Empire
    GEN. JOHN B. HOOD # 1208 Los Angeles
    GENERAL WADE HAMPTON # 2023 Modesto
    GENERAL GEORGE BLAKE COSBY # 1627 Sacramento
    FATHER A. J. RYAN-SAN DIEGO # 302 San Diego
    3RD TENNESSEE CAVALRY # 1410 San Jose
    THE STAINLESS BANNER # 1440 San Jose
    TYREE HARRIS BELL # 1804 Tulare
    CSS VIRGINIA # 2062 Ventura County

    Vote totals in California

    George Wallace, general election 1968
    “The 1968 election brought Wallace 7 percent of the California vote, a total of over 482,000 votes. Wallace’s popular vote in the nation was 9,906,473. ”

    Strom Thurmond, general election 1948
    1228 write-in votes

  30. Trent Hill


    I think its unfair to list members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans as Dixiecrats. I’v met many-a-SCV guy who was a liberal, a moderate, or a conservative of the non-Dixiecrat variety.

    As for Don Grundmann—why does the State need to protect marriage? Marriage survived on its own for thousands of years, without the State’s input.

  31. Rob Power

    As promised, the text of Outright’s press release:

    To Mike and others in the LPC leadership who are offended by my assessment that this vote was called without sufficient “homework” by the LPC, I can only say that Outright has been working on this issue for twelve years, and we have far more experience with it than anyone else in that room last Saturday in Long Beach.

    That nobody in the LPC leadership bothered to even consult with Outright is alone evidence that not enough homework was done. If simply changing a word in a law didn’t have all of these negative unintended consequences, don’t you think we would have proposed that a decade ago? We knew this was a bad idea, and I said at the meeting that this was a bad idea, and the majority simply ignored me. Now, you all get to explain how this vote endorsing a massive tax increase is anything close to Libertarian. Good luck with that.

    If anything good comes out of this, it’s that next time you’ll actually do enough research before an endorsement vote. I don’t want to criticize hard working volunteers like Mike Seebeck, but the LP, with our limited resources, have to learn to work smarter, not harder. And the smarter thing to do would have been to just ask Outright our opinion before this vote. In politics, you don’t get an A for effort.

  32. paulie

    I guess how you want to define Dixiecrat is up to you.

    7% of Californians who voted in 1968 voted for Wallace, and 100,000 or so went the extra mile to register with his new party. The next presidential candidate of that party, who also got over a million votes nationally, was a Californian.

    Ronald Reagan, a former California governor, kicked off his 1980 campaign with a speech about supporting the police in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

    Nixon, another Californian, introduced the Republican “southern strategy” to capture the Wallace vote, and the South has been mostly Republican in presidential elections ever since.

    The LAPD was known for recruiting Southerners from states like Mississippi for many years. I don’t know if that has changed.

    Those are a few examples.

  33. Robert Capozzi

    On its face, it seems shocking to me that LPC didn’t consult Outright on the matter.

    I happen to think that domestic partnership is the way to go, but this failure to communicate underscores the need for the Rodney King Caucus.

    I do think that the LP should recognize that the positions we take is mostly marketing, e.g., applied principle, taking into account the context of the times and plausible, directional measures.

    IMO, holding high the banner of final solutions is contra-indicated, most of the time, for it often entails way-outside-the-mainstream views that do not communicate well to those who are not deeply into philosophical inquiry.

    I guess I take some solace that we live in times when same-gender marriage and domestic partnerships are mainstream ideas. That’s progress. My Inner Rodney tells me that Ls should be forgiving on the specific positions that other Ls take in this matter. We’re not the “enemy.”

  34. Michael Seebeck

    Sorry, Rob, but I posted a complete rebuttal to your editorial on the issue on the other thread.

    LPCA doesn’t need to consult with Outright, and considering that there were at least three Outright members on the LPCA ExComm as of that vote, and it was discussed at the meeting, and I *know* it was discussed amongst the ExComm prior to it (ask Richard), there was plenty of discussion. You could have moved to table the motion but didn’t, too. I guess you didn’t do your homework on Robert’s Rules.

    Your arguments at the meeting were based on international interpretations and were not in scope to California issues, which is why they were ignored. That line was better served arguing to a different body.

    I find it astonishing that you think getting marriage out of the government and back into the churches where it belongs has “negative unintended consequences”, including a tax increase that doesn’t exist. I thought libertarians believed in the separation of church and state, after all.

  35. Rob Power

    Just so you know, Mike, “getting marriage back into the churches where it belongs” is a right-wing, religious conservative, anti-secular, Republican argument. You may want to stop using that one, as it tends to not resonate with Libertarians who don’t live in a little bubble of Republican talk-radio and blogs.

    And thanks for pointing out that the LPC is nothing more than one big game of parliamentary tactics with no real long-term strategy for advancing Liberty. Keeping that in mind, I’ll be sure to have my copy of Robert’s Rules handy in Visalia. God forbid that we’d actually have an honest debate on the Libertarian merits of our policy decisions!

  36. Michael Seebeck

    Chill out, Rob.

    Getting marriage back into the churches is NOT right-wing unless you’ve been transported yourself into another dimension. The right-wing tact is to merge church and state, not separate them. If you told Rev. Barry Lynn over at AU he was right-wing, he’d laugh at the absurdity.

  37. libertariangirl

    I diagree that giving marriage back to the churches is right-wing .

    maybe some churches wouldnt marry gays , like Catholics , fundamental Christians , some Baptists etc . In other words the judgmental ones.

    but there are many , many more churches that would . too many to even name .

    I would like it if the marriages of all kinds from all churches were valid and COULD NOT be subject by government intervention in any way.

  38. Gene Trosper

    I would like it if the marriages of all kinds from all churches were valid and COULD NOT be subject by government intervention in any way.

    Thank you! Totally agree!

  39. Michael Seebeck

    I would like it if the marriages of all kinds from all churches were valid and COULD NOT be subject by government intervention in any way.

    And THAT is the whole point of the DPI.

  40. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Just so you know, Mike, ‘getting marriage back into the churches where it belongs’ is a right-wing, religious conservative, anti-secular, Republican argument.”

    On the contrary. The “right-wing, religious conservative, anti-secular, Republicans” have pretty consistently argued for government definition and regulation of marriage, for the specific purpose of imposing a particular religious impulse’s standards on it.

    In Missouri, a clergyperson who solemnizes a non-state-approved marriage — i.e. a marriage not conforming to the doctrines of evangelical Christianity — can go to jail for a couple of weeks and pay a fine (I’m thinking about testing that).

    Not, of course, that I think marriage belongs ONLY to the churches. If a couple (or trio, etc.) wants to publish their banns through some other social organization of their choice, or just on the door of their house, more power to them. But ultimately, marriage should be an agreement between two (or more) consenting adults in which the state has ZERO say beyond enforcement of valid contracts associated with that agreement if those contracts are litigated (if that — I’d prefer to see arbitration and private courts handle that, too).

    None of this, btw, is intended as an argument against Outright’s position on the initiative in question.

  41. libertariangirl

    TK__Not, of course, that I think marriage belongs ONLY to the churches…
    None of this, btw, is intended as an argument against Outright’s position on the initiative in question


  42. Rob Power

    Okay, time for a little bit of education it seems.

    Marriage, as a civil institution, existed centuries before organized religion, primarily as a means of protecting familial property rights. (You know — property rights? — that thing we Libertarians are supposed to understand and be experts on?) Anyway, just as the Church appropriated the pagans’ tradition of decorating evergreen trees in the winter, the Church also declared the already-existing secular institution of marriage as a sacrament. The Church did not invent marriage. Marriage existed long before organized religion, and to this very day, marriage still has absolutely no religious connotation whatsoever on the majority of the planet. Seriously. My husband is from China. There are a lot more of them than there are of us. This whole “marriage is a sacrament” thing is very Euro-centric thinking.

    So, when you say things like “give marriage back to the Church,” you’re unwittingly adopting the frame that the religious right has set for this debate. Outright and the other LGBT groups are saying that it’s time to “give marriage back to secular society.” I’ve heard the argument that, because religion has “owned” marriage for all of our lives, we have to just let religion “keep” marriage and come up with a different construct. Well, by that same reasoning, since government schools have been the norm for our entire lives, we should stop fighting for school privatization. I disagree with both of those lines of thinking.

    It’s such a shame that so many Libertarians live in a bubble of Republican talk radio, blogs, and Fox News that they reflexively adopt the right wing’s framing of every issue. Especially when I know that most of you don’t have a homophobic, xenophobic, sexist bone in your body. But the net effect of your adopting the Republicans’ arguments is that when a gay Democrat hears you talk about gay issues, they hear Republican talking points and simply “turn off.” Same goes for when a Latino hears you talking about borders, or when a woman hears you talking about reproductive rights. And this is why the LP has so much trouble broadening our outreach to those on the left side of the Nolan Chart.

    So, hopefully, with the knowledge of the actual history of marriage in human society, we can move the debate in a Libertarian direction, which is to “give marriage back to secular society.”


    P.S. Please don’t endorse legislation that harms my family, and then tell me to “chill out.” It’s just offensive.

  43. Michael Seebeck


    You are ranting. The history of marriage as you see it really has no bearing on the tax issues you’re going off on in your press release.

    We talked to an accountant and tax specialist (Wine Commonsewer) and his view is that if it passes the IRS will simply make opposite-sex DPs the same as marriages for their purposes. IOW, status quo ante, and that undermines your entire argument.

    But, as I posted on the other thread, a formal opinion from the IRS will be sought.

    But as a guy who has been filing income taxes of all types for 22 years by hand, I think I tend to have some idea of how this works.

    BTW, why are you so obsessed about joining church and state anyway?

  44. Fred Church Ortiz

    So, hopefully, with the knowledge of the actual history of marriage in human society, we can move the debate in a Libertarian direction, which is to “give marriage back to secular society.”

    Shouldn’t it rather be to give marriage back to the individual? You’ve made it quite clear that marriage takes on a wide variety of forms with differing implications to different cultures, so why snark at the church’s take beyond it’s involuntary enforcement? Way to make anyone religious that might agree with you “turn off”.

  45. Michael Seebeck

    Fred, you get it.

    Marriage vows are between couples and whatever deity they choose to believe in (or none at all). I did mine with my wife on a riverbank in the Rockies–no license, no minister, no cake, none of the silly costumes and trappings that our parents wanted. Just us, and our deity as our witness. We went through the rest of that circus to satisfy our parents only.

    The point is that the state is not necessary in the slightest to confirm that bond or those vows. That’s where Outright misses the point. They are dead-set on state recognition rather than separating marriage and state.

    Colorado is a common-law marriage state, one of only 11 plus DC. Obviously they have it figured out. I sincerely doubt that most Californians have much knowledge about common-law marriage.

  46. Rob Power

    Mike, you don’t get it.

    Do you have to pay for spousal health benefits post-tax? No. I do.

    A straight married guy lecturing a gay married guy on how easy life is even when government doesn’t recognize one’s marriage is a bit like a white guy telling a black guy how harmless it is to be racially profiled. Unfortunately, both are situations that are common in the Libertarian Party, which is why we are overwhelmingly white, straight, male, and Protestant. And those demographic numbers don’t lie.

  47. robert capozzi

    rob, your health benefits are privately offered, yes?

    do you favor the State imposing same-gender parity on private companies? I wouldn’t think so.

  48. Rob Power

    Yes, privately offered. And no, I don’t favor ENDA or any other such regulations on private employers.

    But where my employer deducts my straight co-workers’ family health benefits from their paycheck pre-tax, mine are deducted post-tax. That’s a penalty of hundreds of dollars a year, and my employer has no choice in it whatsoever, since it’s mandated by the government.

    Do you think that sort of tax discrimination against same-sex couples is at all acceptable?

  49. Michael Seebeck

    IOW, Rob, your health insurance problem is with your employer, not the government. Take it up with your HR department to move to a relationship-neutral plus-1 coverage plan to legally get around it. See also City of Colorado Springs circa 2004.

    And none of that has nothing to do with DPI, the LPCA, or Prop 8 either.

  50. robert capozzi

    Rob, no, it’s not fair, regardless of gender. It’s also not fair that the single subsidize families, or that the healthy subsidize the sick (to the extent the sick bring it on themselves).

    OTOH, we should take some solace that we live in times where alternative lifestyles are not ostracized as they were not long ago. With focus and some luck, perhaps we Ls can shape a future where liberty and justice FOR ALL are allowed to flourish and are protected by law and cultural norms. We ain’t there yet, and we should temper our passion for virtue with evolutionary patience.

  51. Michael Seebeck

    I don’t disagree, Brian. The whole reason the insurance is paid pre-tax is so the company can get the extra write-off in the first place–at least that’s what my bookkeeping momma told me when I was a kid.

    While I disagree that insurance is bound to employment, I would definitely agree that *affordable* insurance is bound to employment–as anyone who ever took CORBA can attest to the cost differential. The solution is to make the cost equivalent to consumers regardless of employment status. How that’s done besides removing the pre-tax thing is not in my department–just haven’t looked at it.

  52. paulie

    While I disagree that insurance is bound to employment, I would definitely agree that *affordable* insurance is bound to employment–as anyone who ever took CORBA can attest to the cost differential. The solution is to make the cost equivalent to consumers regardless of employment status. How that’s done besides removing the pre-tax thing is not in my department–just haven’t looked at it.

    There shouldn’t be any employer tax discount for offering health care benefits. That way, it would be decoupled from employment.

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