Outright Libertarians responds to LPCA Domestic Partnership Initiative endorsement

Noting the federal government’s lack of recognition for civil domestic partnerships, Outright Libertarians has issued a press release highlighting the social consequences, and price tag, of the proposed Domestic Partnership Initiative recently endorsed by the Libertarian Party of California:

“The federal government does not recognize ‘domestic partnerships’ in federal law, through both legal precedent and statutes including the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA),” noted Outright Libertarians’ National Chair, Rob Power. “As a result, all federal tax exemptions and deductions for legally-married individuals in California would be nullified along with their legal marriages.”

Immediately after passage of the DPI, the federal income tax implications for the 48.5% of Californians over age 15 who are legally married would be staggering. According to Forbes Magazine, the benefits of the federal Working Families Relief Act include enhanced tax deductions for legally-married couples. The Tax Policy Center notes that asset transfers between spouses are free of transfer taxes at a federal level, and the IRS notes the ability for taxpayers to claim their spouses as dependents. Those provisions, in addition to other federal tax deductions and write-downs limited to legally married couples, equate to an average of $6,000 per individual spouse — with the total being significantly greater for higher-income families.

“Passage of the DPI, as endorsed by the Libertarian Party of California’s executive committee, would hand the married families of California a $130 billion higher tax bill in the first tax year after the passage of the initiative,” said Power. “Assuming Washington could address this problem with unprecedented speed — within 24 months of the passage of the DPI — Californians would pay an extra quarter-trillion dollars in federal taxes as a direct result of this bill. That’s the minimum amount, as well — if the Obama plan to pass the death tax succeeds, the total federal tax hike over those two years could approach $300 billion.”

The release continues taking the LPCA to task both for the noted consequences of the measure, and the manner in which the endorsement was passed:

“Higher federal taxes, in the wake of significant state tax increases, would drive countless Californians into severe financial difficulty,” said Angela Keaton, Outright’s California Representative. “It’s unconscionable and California Libertarians should be outraged at this irresponsible vote by their executive committee. The Libertarian Party is supposed to oppose tax increases, not endorse them.”

Libertarians typically oppose tax increases of all sorts. The Libertarian Party’s national platform, adopted by a majority vote of Libertarians in convention in 2008, calls for the wholesale elimination of the income tax and IRS. The Libertarian Party of California’s endorsement of a bill that would significantly increase federal income taxes runs completely counter to mainstream Libertarianism.

While the tax implications alone are massive, they are not the only consequence of passage of the DPI. The bill would also significantly increase the role of state and federal government in parenting and spousal health decisions. Since most states do not recognize “domestic partners,” individuals with a California marriage license in those states would find themselves unable to make decisions ranging from spousal health care (in the event of spousal incapacitation) to home schooling and child health decisions. Military families with California marriage licenses could also find themselves unable to live on base, ineligible to receive military employment health coverage, and even excluded from receiving casualty notices in the event of the injury or death of family members in active duty. Each of these consequences is also sharply in opposition to the Libertarian Party’s national platform.

“Libertarians around the country are absolutely astounded at the decision to endorse this bill,” said Ruth Bennett, Outright’s Vice Chair. “A bill that hikes federal taxes and increases state and federal interference in personal relationships is about as unLibertarian as you can get! This vote is a disaster and an embarrassment for Libertarians who believe that higher taxes, increased legal restrictions and bigger government are a bad thing.”

The Libertarian Party of California was a full partner in the No On 8 coalition to oppose Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment passed in 2008 that voided the equal protection clause of the California constitution vis-a-vis gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families. In contrast, the motion to endorse the DPI was hurriedly made — without time for due consideration — and passed by a vote of the state party executive committee, above the objections of Outright’s Chair Rob Power (who was a member of the California LP Executive Committee and resigned following the DPI endorsement vote).

“The Libertarian position on this issue is simple,” said Power. “Our platform calls for removing government from personal relationships entirely. This initiative does not do that, instead leaving in place all of the intrusiveness that goes along with government marriage licenses, yet changing the name of the license to appease religious conservatives, thereby massively increasing California couples’ federal tax burden. The Libertarian Party of California should be voting to continue its commitment to repeal Proposition 8 and its restrictions on individual liberties. Instead, it chose to endorse a massive federal tax hike and enable even greater government interference in the most intimate decisions of California families of all types. It’s hard to imagine a more disastrous and anti-Libertarian outcome.”

Full press release with additional quotes here. Previous IPR article and discussion on the LPCA’s endorsement here.

145 thoughts on “Outright Libertarians responds to LPCA Domestic Partnership Initiative endorsement

  1. Robert Capozzi

    This is a convincing argument. While the notion of transitioning to domestic partnerships has a LOT of appeal on L grounds, endorsing a specific approach that would raise taxes of married couples is poor positioning for the LP.

    I’d like to hear a counter, but I think Outright’s case is very strong against the LPC’s move here.

    It seems the only way to support this DP initiative would be to ensure the couples could file “married” at the federal level.

  2. fern

    If a government is giving tax advantages to legally married people it is not out of the goodness of its heart (a government is heartless).
    I also love the intention to appease religious sensitivities, how thoughtful of them!
    Libertarian has an anarchistic connotation, so once an anarchistic movement has a committee or a party, it is not anarchistic anymore and it can vie for a living along the other parties and churches.
    If they sided with the “no on 8” it’s only because they know like many other people that homosexuality will be accepted in a not so distant future so it’s a safe bet, even the churches know that but they can’t back out of their teachings.
    All men are created equal… we hold these truth to be self evident… Clearly the entire United States is at fault here.

  3. Tom Mooney

    Compare and contrast: Slave rights and gay rights; the contrasts are easy, the comparisons are profound. Slave marriages were not legally honored either. They could not create and sign contracts and what is marriage mostly (legally speaking) but a huge contract with thousands of rights and responsibilities.

  4. Gene Trosper

    Thing is: this will never make the ballot. Most people aren’t going to sign a petition to that would essentially eliminate the concept of “marriage” because they are too emotionally tied to it.

    While this is an imperfect initiative, I fully support getting all levels of government out of marriage completely, except to arbitrate contractual disputed between spouses/partners (straight, gay, polygamous, polyamorous, etc).

    The discussion regarding the role of government interference in “marriage” is something we need, and I believe this initiative, as flawed as it is, can be a great way of starting this discussion.

  5. paulie

    Thing is: this will never make the ballot. Most people aren’t going to sign a petition to that would essentially eliminate the concept of “marriage” because they are too emotionally tied to it.

    I would not be surprised if it made the ballot.

    Remember, most people don’t have to sign it and most people don’t sign any given petition.

    Some people, however, will sign anything or just about anything, whether because they agree with it, because they believe it should at least be allowed to be voted on, they want to help out the petitioner, or because the petitioner BSed them into thinking it’s something different than what it is.

    On an issue like this, I can pretty much guarantee that some people will sign it thinking it’s for gay marriage, some will sign thinking it’s against gay marriage, and some will sign thinking it’s for better schools and lower gas prices.

    If they have the money – and it sounds like they do, if the prop h8 backers support it – they will get enough signatures.

  6. SSave our SStatism

    I find this initiative confusing.

    Isn’t there any way we can raise everybody’s taxes like they are talking about here while preserving state-recognized marriage?

  7. rah62

    I can’t share Outright’s outrage. The answer is to get marriage completely separated from the state, not add more people to the state-sanctioned definition of marriage. Outright’s attempts to change the subject are telling because they don’t want to deal with *their* anti-libertarian actions as regards to advocating for gay marriage. As a gay man, I would never give the state the opportunity to give any sort of official sanction to my relationship, and I’m appalled by Outright and other libertarians who want to add whole new categories of marriages under state control.

  8. Marakay Rogers

    Hoo, rah.

    You don’t HAVE to give the state opportunity to afford sanction to your relationship because you presumably already don’t have it (unless you’re in Massachusetts, Connecticut, or one or two other states). One of the basics of Libertarian doctrine is the ability to engage in private contract, which is what marriage is supposed to be — and in most of the country, the LGBT community is denied that private individual right by the government. It is far from “changing the subject” to stand up in opposition to an allegedly Libertarian group’s standing up in public and endorsing a move that denies an entire state’s population that right while upping their taxes. Denial of rights and imposition of taxes is the opposite of what the Libertarian Party should stand for. No one except the LPC is trying to create new categories of marriage here.

  9. SSave our SStatism

    I think this whole gay thing is a big deflection from the real issue regarding marriages: foreigners marrying US citizens to get around immigration law. This is a loophole that needs to be closed as soon as possible.

    I think we should outlaw marriages between real Americans and people who look or talk different. No more international marriages!

    SSave our SStatism

  10. Michael Seebeck

    Outright misses the point by making a federal argument on a state issue.

    Federal tax implications are not in the scope of the LPCA decision, which is focused on state issues.

    Federal tax implications are the purview of the LNC, not the LPCA.

    Furthermore, there is actually a lawsuit pending in the US Tax Court over this same issue: http://www.taxgirl.com/merrill-challenges-defense-of-marriage-act-on-tax-grounds/

    Not to mention the fact that the CBO studied the issue and concluded that if there is federal same-gender marriage, that federal tax revenue would increase: http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=5559&type=0 The same report also outlines effects on federal “benefits” including Social Security and Medicare.

    The DPI has NO negative impact on California state taxes at all. Just look at your 2008 540a. In fact, the $99 credit for a same-gender spouse that is lost under Prop 8 would be regained. That’s a tax cut!

    Furthermore, whether another state recognizes a California DPI or not is not California’s problem. That is a constitutional issue of the Full Faith and Credit Clause.

    IOW, Outright can complain all it wants, but the issue they’re complaining about is federal in scope, not California. Their real beef is not with the DPI but with DOMA.

    LPCA’s position is based in California issues, not federal issues.

    One last thing: a marriage certificate for a opposite-gender marriage performed prior to DPI or after passing is still prima facie evidence of a marriage as far as the IRS is concerned. I asked.

  11. Gene Trosper

    @6

    On the issue of petitioning and ballot qualification, I’ll defer to you Paulie.

    I’ll admit that after reading this release from Outright Libertarians, I was gung-ho for this petition. Idealistically, I still support getting the state out of marriage. Unfortunately, the problems outlined above have caused me to withdraw my full support.

    It’s things like this that make Libertarian politics a frustrating thing and demonstrate just how much the state has entagled everything in its web. Either you support freedom of association or you wind up supporting higher taxes.

  12. Brian Miller

    LPCA’s position is based in California issues, not federal issues.

    If I was in California, I would certainly characterize an LPC-endorsed ballot initiative that would hike Californians’ income taxes by a quarter-trillion dollars over two years to be a “California issue.”

    Good Libertarian policy takes things in a generally Libertarian direction.

    Bad Libertarian policy hikes taxes, reduces personal freedoms, and then attempts to rationalize those bad consequences as “out of scope.”

  13. Fred Church Ortiz Post author

    If they have the money – and it sounds like they do, if the prop h8 backers support it – they will get enough signatures.

    This still doesn’t follow for me. Prop 8 fulfilled the goal of its backers, to have their and only their marriages recognized. This would not just undo their win, it would kick them down to the point gay couples were at in the couple years prior to In re Marriages. I find it hard to buy a religious conservative angle on annulling their own legal marriages and attached benefits just to say “see, it’s good enough for us.”

    This reads more like well intentioned but abortive attempted-libertarianism. I think that’ll likely be the driving motivation of most of its supporters, until confronted with these consequences. This was otherwise a good analysis by Outright, and IMO exactly the argument that would cinch the DPI’s defeat.

  14. Gene Trosper

    @12

    Well, after reading your take on it Mike (You posted while I was composing my message), I am lost on this issue. I admittedly am not as knowledgeable on this as I’d like to be. Guess I’ll take a wait and see approach.

  15. paulie

    This still doesn’t follow for me. Prop 8 fulfilled the goal of its backers, to have their and only their marriages recognized. This would not just undo their win, it would kick them down to the point gay couples were at in the couple years prior to In re Marriages. I find it hard to buy a religious conservative angle on annulling their own legal marriages and attached benefits just to say “see, it’s good enough for us.”

    I’m guessing their angle is not to actually get it passed (and I don’t think it will pass, or even come close). But, they may want it to get on the ballot just so they can divide and conquer those who want to overturn H8.

  16. Fred Church Ortiz Post author

    I can sorta see that paulie, but it still strikes me as a stretch. A Prop 8 challenge crafted to oppose this one, say by repealing the amendment and addressing the rest of the code (maybe even just stating that it remains intact) would be in an approval fight with the DPI, not direct competition. Since Prop 8 came a lot closer to being defeated than any potential this has to pass, it look likes expensive and ill-conceived for a defensive move – particularly when conventional wisdom would seem to dictate a true repeal is several cycles in the offing.

  17. Brian Miller

    they may want it to get on the ballot just so they can divide and conquer those who want to overturn H8.

    That’s the most likely motivation. Peeling off supporters of a repeal of Prop 8 into two or three separate camps can weaken any effort to overturn the original Proposition.

    The notion that “it’s all about the word marriage,” as LPCA Northern Vice Chair Rich Newell has suggested, also strikes me as unsupported by recent history.

    In 2000, when Howard Dean opted for a “separate civil union” status for gays — his other choice being full marriage — the vociferous opposition to civil unions was no less intense than the opposition to marriage in California. An entire campaign called “Take Back Vermont” was created to overturn the ruling.

    More recently, and more relevant to the California state question, the anti-gay lobby in California sued the state in the “Knight vs. Schwarzenegger” case, which was resolved in 2006. The lawsuit sought to eliminate the existing California domestic partnership laws — which are, like Vermont, a separate “not marriage” status — and failed.

    That history sorta gives lie to the idea that relationship statism can be overcome by a word change.

  18. john micheil

    While the report raises good points, it also fails to realize that the federal government is not going to raise taxes. They’ll be forced to recognize domestic partnerships if this bill passes. They simply cannot ignore all of California (the government works in the interest of protecting all of its citizens). I think this report is just a bitter reaction to not having things your way. If anything this initiative will force the federal government to deregulate “marriage” by either removing DOMA or making it more inclusive

  19. Brian Miller

    it also fails to realize that the federal government is not going to raise taxes. They’ll be forced to recognize domestic partnerships if this bill passes.

    Actually, it does raise the possibility. It would require statutory changes throughout federal law across a host of different areas — unlikely to happen immediately given the situation. In the mean time, until Congress actually addresses the situation, taxes would increase $130 billion per year.

    It took Congress 11 years to address the “marriage penalty,” where two high income earners who were married paid higher income taxes in certain tax situations, and that impacted high income married people throughout the country.

    It strikes me as unlikely that they’d move much faster on an issue that impacted just one state. “Taking the chance” and raising income taxes on Californians in the mean time is a risky strategy and worse, it’s unlibertarian, since tax increases are “never okay” from a Libertarian perspective.

    the government works in the interest of protecting all of its citizens

    If that was true, this entire discussion and controversy wouldn’t be happening. Somehow, trusting in government to do the right thing also strikes me as rather unLibertarian!

  20. Becky

    How inane–the federal government would never get away with that–if they tried courts would move with speed like you have never seen– and if necessary Congress would do a Terry Schiavo.

    Whether by IRS interpretation, Congressional Action or the court order– what would actually happen would be a good thing–civil unions would be recognized as, for at least tax purposes, the same as marriage–sticking a nice poke into DOMA.

    I suggest that Outright Libertarians get a gig doing propaganda for the Mormons.

  21. paulie

    One last thing: a marriage certificate for a opposite-gender marriage performed prior to DPI or after passing is still prima facie evidence of a marriage as far as the IRS is concerned. I asked.

    Did you get the name of the person you talked to?

  22. Rob Power

    Regarding the argument that the federal government would recognize domestic partnerships, I would suggest that this is evidence of not having done any research on the topic.

    Outright recently had a blog entry on Annie Leibovitz having to mortgage her home to pay the transfer taxes on her joint property with her domestic partner Susan Sontag when Sontag died in 2004:

    http://outrightlibertarians.blogspot.com/2009/03/annie-leibovitz-and-gay-tax-broadsheet.html

    So, whomever at the IRS claimed that domestic partnerships are honored by the federal government was clearly mistaken. I think it was Stossel who did an expose a few years back on how often the people answering IRS phones give incorrect answers, and the fact that this is not a valid defense when being audited.

    Again, please do your homework. We’ve been looking at marriage and tax policy for well over a decade at Outright. You guys made a mistake — a big one. The best thing you can do now is admit the mistake, retract the endorsement, and move on.

  23. Gene Berkman

    Separation of Marriage and State is certainly an interesting idea from a utopian libertarian perspective, and in that sense I support it.

    In the real world, the points made by Outright Libertarians are more significant. Thank you, OL’s for commenting on this issue.

    At the same time, if this initiative qualifies for the ballot, it does not look like attempting the simple justice of making marriage non-discriminatory. It looks like “if we can’t have a right, neither can you” and that has never proved to be a convincing argument.

  24. Brian Miller

    How inane–the federal government would never get away with that–if they tried courts would move with speed like you have never seen

    You have an awful lot of “faith,” but very little legal knowledge, I’m afraid.

    We’ve been dealing with these issues for well over a decade, and are quite aware of the case law. It’s not “open and shut,” and our staff researchers — including one of the LP’s best known family lawyers — was key to formulating our analysis.

    If it was a simple issue of “magical court interventions saving the day,” we wouldn’t be expressing our concerns with the proposal. If the proposal was at all workable, from a legal perspective (let alone a strategic one), you wouldn’t see the entire leadership from stem to stern taking the step of issuing a press release about it.

  25. Michael Seebeck

    Paulie, I simply called the IRS customer service line and asked. 1-800-829-1040.

    Brian, if DPI passes, it has NO impact on federal laws at all. It’s that simple.

    Let’s be clear on this, once and for all: DPI does NOT raise any taxes on opposite-gender couples, period! The federal status of same-gender couples remains unchanged as well.

    If a currently-married opposite-gender couple is afraid of a federal tax increase if this passes, all they have to do is enclose a copy of their marriage certificate with their tax return.

    If a domestic-partnership opposite-gender couple married in a church is afraid of a federal tax increase if this passes, all they have to do is enclose a copy of their marriage certificate with their tax return.

    DOMA indicates marriage is recognized as a legal union between a man and a woman. See 1 USC 7 and 28 USC 1736. It gives no indication of how or by whom that union was performed. Considering that 11 states and DC have common-law marriage and Colorado still has putative spousal rights, they really can’t anyway.

  26. Michael Seebeck

    Sorry, Rob, but you’re still not seeing the difference here.

    The Liebowitz-Sontag case was about a same-gender DP, not an opposite-gender DP. That difference is quite significant. Even if DPI passes, that case would not change.

    You’re still stuck arguing a federal argument on a state issue.

  27. Michael Seebeck

    Now, for your challenge, should you choose to accept it: Show where in California taxes there would be an increase in taxes for going all-DP.

    You claim a tax increase, so back it up with the specific citations.

  28. Brian Miller

    DPI does NOT raise any taxes on opposite-gender couples, period! The federal status of same-gender couples remains unchanged as well.

    First sentence, wrong.

    Second sentence, irrelevant.

    You are incorrect about a statement of basic federal tax law.

    Federal law does not recognize a state “domestic partnership” — of any gender combination — as a marriage for tax purposes.

    Reclassifying California marriages as “domestic partnerships” is a material change in legal status that renders them null and void for federal tax purposes, based on federal law including DOMA.

    GLAD agrees. The ACLU agrees. Our staff family attorney agrees.

    The LPC’s ex-com disagrees, on the advice of an undergraduate pre-law student and alleged undocumented calls to an IRS tip-line with a 50% bad information rate.

    It’s really your call as to who you believe in this matter, but it’s a bit silly to suggest we’d be going through all this effort if we didn’t have significant legal weight behind our concerns.

  29. Gene Trosper

    I am just curious: if taxes were a non issue, would Outright support this initiative?

  30. Michael Seebeck

    Sorry, Brian, but the ones who collect the taxes, the IRS, disagree with you, and GLAD and ACLU (of which I am a member) have looked at same-gender DP’s in relation to the issue, NOT opposite-gender issues. You still ignore that important distinction.

    Federal law does indeed not recognize a DP as a marriage for tax purposes, but you neglect the rest of the story. They don’t because the feds have always seen DPs and CUs as same-gender, and has NEVER seen them as opposite-gender. What you and your alleged sources don’t seem to understand is that you’re trying to apply a round peg to a square hole here when the round role hasn’t been drilled yet, and that’s where the argument falls apart.

    How do you think the IRS handles common-law issues in the 11 states that have them?

    And you’re STILL applying a federal argument to a state issue, which is not relevant to the initiative. You’re so wrapped up in the federal “consequences” of the issue that you’re ignoring the state side of the issue, which is where the question is actually addressed in the first place. You’re comparing apples and oranges.

  31. Michael Seebeck

    “Alleged undocumented calls”, Brian? Call for yourself. I gave the number. The IRS records all calls.

    Gene, IMEIO, Outright would most likely not support the DPI even if taxes weren’t an issue, because they are still stuck around the idea that marriage needs government license or acknowledgment to be considered legitimate. DPI would remove that completely. The need for government to grant, license or acknowledge any right is where liberals and libertarians part ways.

  32. Michael Seebeck

    BTW, Brian, the IRS call was made AFTER the Long Beach meeting, so your argument to authority doesn’t wash either. And since the IRS is the ones setting the rules, not GLAD, the ACLU, or your family attorney, they tend to be the authority that actually matters.

    The fact is, the idea of applying a DP to opposite-gender couples is completely new to the IRS, meaning it’s something they have never considered before. Those of us who do our own taxes by hand, married filing jointly, not relying on software or the tax industry, and who have been audited, know that we have to justify every last item on the return, including our exemptions, which means proving the marriage status, which is done acceptably by any marriage certificate, church or state. I know this firsthand, because I’ve been there.

  33. Fred Church Ortiz Post author

    The fact is, the idea of applying a DP to opposite-gender couples is completely new to the IRS, meaning it’s something they have never considered before.

    I seem to remember that the old Californian DP had a clause that extended to hetero couples where one of the partners was elderly. Finding how that was handled could provide some insight.

  34. paulie

    The fact is, the idea of applying a DP to opposite-gender couples is completely new to the IRS, meaning it’s something they have never considered before.

    On the contrary, the IRS has been practicing double penetration against people of all orientations for many years.

  35. Michael Seebeck

    After discussion with other parties, I have agreed to make a formal inquiry to the IRS beyond the customer service line. I feel that Brian’s concern about the reliability of that line is valid, so we’ll get a real answer from the IRS.

  36. Michael Seebeck

    That’s a good point, Fred. I’ll have to check on that. Admittedly absent from all of this is the question of how the current DP arrangement works and how that would be extended.

  37. rah62

    Marakay, I am not denied the right to engage in private contract by the state of California. The state already gives me that right, and I can set up my hypothetical same-sex partner with all the private contractual rights I so choose. Those who campaign for “gay marriage”, though, such as Outright, base their argument on the infamous list of a thousand gimmes that they can get from the government if they could get married. That’s not libertarian. Banging on the courthouse door and demanding to have a state-sanctioned marriage is not libertarian. True Libertarians prefer to be left alone by the government and have as few dealings as possible with it.

  38. Marakay Rogers

    In my experience as a family law attorney, and as someone with friends who work on an IRS customer service line (who have called me to ask me, an attorney who tries to avoid tax law), I would never rely on a telephone consult for accurate information.

    In this particular case, considering that the federal government does not recognize heterosexual domestic partnerships formed in Europe which are not labelled “marriage”, I would be very dubious of any non-litigated opinion issued by ANY government agency on the effect of heterosexual domestic partnership terminology from an American state on not only taxes but on any other federal issue. As we all very well know, the government can make any insane claims it wants about the effects of a policy until it’s actually litigated and a decision reached in federal court.

    Considering that it’s already been fairly welol determined that the term “domestic partnership” is not the same as the term “marriage” for purposes of granting federal rights, I would be highly surprised if, upon actually going to court, that same government would treat it as the same for other purposes. Not without passage of more legislation, and since when has more legislation been better?

  39. Marakay Rogers

    Rah, are you therefore against the LP platform? Last I checked, the national platform said that gender should have no relevance in marriage laws.

  40. Michael Seebeck

    Marakay, I never rely on attorneys for accurate information, either.

    However, as stated before, domestic partnerships have not been considered by the IRS for opposite-gender couples, only same-gender couples. This is new waters for them.

    And, in this case, it is in the hypothetical only since it not only is not law yet, but it could not be, too.

  41. paulie

    the question of how the current DP arrangement works and how that would be extended.

    So, this priest and this IRS auditor walk into a bar…

  42. Rob Power

    I’m getting tired of repeating the “please do your homework first before opening your mouth” line, but once more…

    Vermont has had opposite-sex civil unions since 2000. They are not recognized as marriages under federal law. Opposite-sex couples in Vermont who enter into a civil union pay a federal tax penalty that married couples do not pay.

    From the state of Vermont’s BISHCA website:

    “If I cover my civil union partner on my employer’s health insurance, is it taxable?

    At the federal level, yes. The value of your employer’s contribution for your partner and non-IRS eligible dependents is considered taxable, and is “imputed” dollar for dollar to your total income in calculating your federal tax. Starting with the 2001 tax year, it is not factored as imputed income for Vermont state income tax purposes. Your civil union partner and non-IRS eligible dependent(s) also may not qualify for federal tax exemptions on insurance premiums that married couples receive.”

    http://www.bishca.state.vt.us/Civilunion/civiluguideweb.htm

    Clear enough? So please stop making the false claims that:

    1) opposite-sex non-marriage “unions” don’t exist, so the IRS has never had to address the issue, and

    2) opposite-sex non-marriage “unions” don’t face a federal tax penalty.

    We have over 8 years of experience to the contrary in Vermont. And, once again, if any of you folks had bothered to spend even 15 minutes searching the web, you would have figured this out.

    Passage of DPI will result in a huge tax penalty for all opposite-sex married couples in California. Period. It doesn’t raise same-sex couples’ rights to match opposite-sex couples, but rather it lowers opposite-sex couples’ rights to match same-sex couples. That’s not moving policy in a Libertarian direction any more than taxing everyone until we’re all equally poor would be.

    Get back to me if the IRS ever gives you something in writing to the contrary, and I’ll be the first to publish it for the world to see. If that happens, there are thousands of people in Vermont who are owed tax refunds and would love to get that information.

  43. Aaron Starr

    Frankly, I believe this whole thing is a tempest in a tea pot.

    I attended the LPC Executive Committee meeting as an observer, met Ali Shams, the young proponent and had lunch with him. He seems like a nice guy, but he is in way over his head. There is simply no way this young man can pull off an all-volunteer effort to gather the 694,354 valid (1,000,000+ raw) signatures necessary by August 6 to qualify a state-wide constitutional initiative. The last time an all-volunteer effort for an initiative qualified in California was almost 30 years ago, before this guy was even born. So unless Mr. Shams is willing to raise $2+ million, this measure is dead on arrival.

  44. Michael Seebeck

    Vermont ain’t California, Rob, and CUs aren’t DPs, either. Like travelling through states, your mileage may vary. That’s how our system works, after all.

    How many opposite-gender CUs are there in VT vs. same-gender CUs? If you have all this vast experience on them you should know this off the top of your head.

    And the state of VT commenting on IRS regs is not the best source, either. That’s like me commenting on your relationship, of which I know little to nothing.

    And you have yet to indicate how California state taxes will go up. I, on the other hand, illustrated there would be no change in the individual state tax liabilities.

    All you’ve done is go bananas on a federal tax concern without anything to back it up from the IRS. And as I said initially, the federal tax issue is out of scope for a state party proposition issue. Take it up with the LNC since it’s a federal tax issue.

  45. Michael Seebeck

    Aaron, you may be right on that. I hope you’re wrong, but you may be right. Time will tell, I guess. 🙂

    However, the positive of this will simply be getting into the public chain of thought just exactly what the term “marriage” actually means and why. That public education is necessary to move the discussion and public attitudes forward.

    I had a long conversation with a friend on this this afternoon, and this friend seems to think the disagreement is over means, not the ends.

    It really comes down to where people think marriage should lie in terms of the government. The whole licensing and taxation arguments are simply pieces of that, and there appears to be a lot of emotional discourse over those specific trees instead of the entire forest.

  46. paulie

    Aaron, you may be right on that. I hope you’re wrong, but you may be right. Time will tell, I guess.

    Absolutely, he’s right. If they don’t have the money behind them, they’re dreaming.

    The only way they will have the money is if the LDS and the other big players get behind this in a Machiavellian divide and conquer ploy. But then, I’m not sure they will convince enough people to donate money to something other than their actual goal. Most people don’t understand strategic thinking like that in politics.

  47. Aaron Starr

    For those who are really interested and you have nothing better to do, you can always read IRS Publication #17 (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p17.pdf), starting around page 20.

    In summary, here is what it states.

    For federal tax purposes, a marriage means only a legal union between a man and a woman as husband and wife.

    You are considered married for the whole year if on the last day of your tax year you and your spouse meet any one of the following tests.

    1. You are married and living together as husband and wife.
    2. You are living together in a common law marriage that is recognized in the state where you now live or in the state where the common law marriage began.
    3. You are married and living apart, but not legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance.
    4. You are separated under an interlocutory (not final) decree of divorce. For purposes of filing a joint return, you are not considered divorced.

    By the way, the following jurisdictions currently recognize common law marriage: Alabama, Colorado, District of Columbia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Texas.

    I haven’t bothered to analyze this any further, because it isn’t worth investing the time on such a hypothetical, but let’s pretend that by some miracle of miracles this measure were to qualify for the ballot and pass.

    I sincerely doubt that the IRS would suddenly decree that all married couples in California would then be required to file as single taxpayers. The political backlash would be tremendous. And auditing it would be a nightmare because many people got their marriage licenses in other states (e.g. Nevada).

    The likely outcome of this initiative passing is that the IRS would recognize all the previous marriages (too many married congressmen from California they wouldn’t want to tick off), they probably would not recognize the subsequent domestic partnership filings (even if opposite-sex), and the Nevada economy will boom from all the folks in California that need to go out-of-state in the future to get a marriage license.

    And I can guarantee you that Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D – San Francisco) would post-haste find a way to have legislation passed that would recognize future opposite-sex domestic partnership arrangements as marriages for federal income tax purposes.

  48. Gene Trosper

    It’s not often I agree with Aaron, but he is dead on the money: there is no way this is ever going to get on the ballot. Plus, I really don’t believe the religious right will get behind something like this, even if to create a divide and conquer strategy. There is too much to lose if their plan backfires. The last thing they want is to be placed on equal legal footing with gays & lesbians.

  49. Michael Seebeck

    I tend to agree with Aaron’s assessment. The IRS addresses the federal issue, which if DPI passes could remain unchanged. Rob’s argument is that it will do so, causing a federal tax increase. It’s an argument flawed in political reality, as Aaron points out rather clearly.

    If it comes to pass in that manner, then the end result will be a serious undermining of DOMA in the process as well, which will only stir the impetus to get rid of it entirely. That’s a good thing.

    Paulie, you need to realize that the biggest pro-8 contributor was not the LDS but the Roman Catholic Knights of Columbus, followed by Focus on the Family (whose just-resigned head James Dobson is a Nazarene).

    Besides, there currently is no other initiative to repeal Prop 8 anywhere in the state’s initiative pipeline either. I don’t expect to see one (if at all) until after the California Supreme Court rules on the lawsuit one way or another, NLT June 3.

  50. paulie

    Paulie, you need to realize that the biggest pro-8 contributor was not the LDS but the Roman Catholic Knights of Columbus, followed by Focus on the Family (whose just-resigned head James Dobson is a Nazarene).

    I didn’t say they were the biggest, and it doesn’t change what I said.

    Regardless of who it is, I don’t think they could persuade their rank and file to open their wallets for a backhanded divide and conquer scheme.

  51. Gene Trosper

    @53

    I could, however, visualize the polygamist communities of Southern Utah/Northern Arizona (Hilldale & Colorado City) wanting to contribute to this initiative and it may help them eventually gain legal status for their particular brand of domestic partnerships.

  52. paulie

    I don’t think they have extra millions laying around.

    That $2M Aaron cited is just to get on the ballot. It’s well into eight figures in advertising to actually pass something like this.

  53. Ralph

    The Other Initiative to Repeal Prop. 8

    Yes on Equality

    About – Campaign in Depth

    There are two basic aspects of the campaign:

    1) Provide a timely, basic tool to advance equality in California by gathering signatures for a 2010 ballot initiative.

    2) Help established progressive networks and community organizations to motivate a diverse network of interested volunteers around grassroots efforts to broaden equality in California.

    The Yes on Equality Campaign is purely a collaborative effort, and seeks to complement (not to displace) existing networks and long-standing community organizations in California that have struggled for equality on numerous levels, including on the basis of economic status, race, gender, and sexual orientation.

  54. Michael Seebeck

    Paulie, you just bought into the destructive hype of Prop 8 being run by the LDS is all. The KofC ran under the radar on it pretty successfully.

    But your point is taken. 🙂

  55. Michael Seebeck

    Ralph, that’s old news, with no activity ongoing at the government front on step 1.

  56. paulie

    Paulie, you just bought into the destructive hype of Prop 8 being run by the LDS is all.

    I listed them as the one player that popped into my head first. I didn’t say they ran it nor that they were the biggest player, so I think you are reading more into an example than I meant by it.

  57. Ralph

    The Other Initiative to Repeal Prop. 8

    Yes! on Equality

    About – Campaign in Depth

    There are two basic aspects of the campaign:

    1) Provide a timely, basic tool to advance equality in California by gathering signatures for a 2010 ballot initiative.

    2) Help established progressive networks and community organizations to motivate a diverse network of interested volunteers around grassroots efforts to broaden equality in California.

    The Yes on Equality Campaign is purely a collaborative effort, and seeks to complement (not to displace) existing networks and long-standing community organizations in California that have struggled for equality on numerous levels, including on the basis of economic status, race, gender, and sexual orientation.

  58. Robert Capozzi

    Power @ 45 makes a good point about VT’s civil unions. Starr @ 50 makes a counter point about IRS regs for “common law marriages.” His point that CA federal-level pols simply would not let all their currently married constituents pay federal taxes as if single rings true. (Pelosi is actually Speaker, btw.)

    Realpolitick being what it is, VT doesn’t have the juice that CA does. The apparent VT precedent is a TINY portion of VT’s population, itself relatively small. CA’s existing MARRIED population is quite large, many of whom have been filing as MARRIED for years, which itself is precedent, as I understand the notion. So, the VT and CA (prospective) comparison is somewhat apples and oranges. But, this is all wild speculation, especially if the DP Initiative is not sufficiently funded.

    DP seems well motivated. LPC seems well motivated, although perhaps they rushed to judgment a bit. Still, we can just always say No to anything that’s generally positive and thereby remain irrelevant and paralyzed.

    Hey, doesn’t Rodney King live in CA? Maybe he can sit in as an arbitrator at the next Executive Committee meeting 😉

  59. Robert Capozzi

    A further thought:

    Could LPC condition its support for DPI on a ruling that DPs WILL receive equal tax treatment at the federal level?

    Problem solved?

  60. Brian Miller

    Could LPC condition its support for DPI on a ruling that DPs WILL receive equal tax treatment at the federal level?

    I think that’s gambling with the finances of other people, and is unlibertarian.

    If the LPC had wanted to do this properly, it would have coordinated with the national LP and other national groups already lobbying for a federal resolution to this issue, and then issued a roadmap for implementation — rather than diving into this issue willy-nilly, resulting in huge tax increases and severe problems for those Californians who travel out-of-state on a regular basis.

    This ballot initiative just makes the LPC look stupid, and also erodes its credibility as a coalition partner. Five months ago, LPC was a full partner in the “No On 8” campaign (but didn’t do all that much).

    Now, its Northern Vice Chair is putting out statements dissing its former coalition partners as culture warriors, and proposing an initiative that would place the legal status of millions of Californians at risk (with the “hope” that a court ruling or federal statute *might* reverse that).

    Suppose you’re a coalition taking a position on another issue of importance in California. The LPC wants to join your coalition. You look at their track record with Proposition 8. What comes to your mind immediately?

    Exactly.

  61. Robert Capozzi

    And, yes, Brian, perhaps the process was sub-optimal. Nothing new, yes?

    We need to learn how to do (what I consider to be minor) damage control.

  62. Chuck Moulton

    I tend to agree with the LPCA here. I find it extremely unlikely that the federal government would cease recognizing California marriages if this passed.

    Hell, Texas passed a state Constitutional amendment by a 3-to-1 margin eliminating all marriages in 2005, but there weren’t any tax implications there.

    The amendment included this language:

    This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

    You know what is identical or similar to marriage? Marriage.

  63. Robert Capozzi

    Chuck, clever. I see that JD’s still working for ya! I’m not sure I’d read the TX amendment as you do, but, yes, IF DPI passed (highly unlikely) and IF the IRS somehow didn’t recognize CA DPs (compounding the high unlikelihood), that would be reversed in an SF second. It would bring to bear all sorts of federal equal protection red flags.

  64. Lidia Seebeck

    Wait a second–

    If Mike and I by some miracle sell this house and move to Texas, then we ain’t gonna be married per the 2005 amendment? (?!!!!?)

  65. john micheil

    outright libertarians should be ashamed of themselves. I was reading up on the blog posted by them and noticed one of the quotes regarding what people are saying:

    “I have to give these kids credit.” — Frank Schubert, Yes On 8 campaign (referring to the Domestic Partnership Initiative’s supporters)

    I love how you left that out of its context (it was from the san jose mercury), when in fact Frank Schubert calls it a “fundamentally dumb idea.” He was merely giving the proponent credit for the media attention their 200 dollar filing fee got them. SO really, outright libertarians and the Yes on 8 people are on the same page.

    How can I listen to this when you’re blatantly trying to take things out of context. Stick with the truth and maybe you gain my attention, if you lie then you are no different than the yes on 8 people.

  66. john micheil

    I mean outright is right… let’s not take a “risk” of having this pass. Instead let’s spend the next 50 years burning those trillions over a Yes/No fight on “marriage”. The law isn’t set in stone, and if this passes something will come up to address that issue rather quickly, because California has too much political and economic influence to be ignored. Of course you’re not going to agree, unless you put your extremist idealism aside and realize that the only way to work things out is through compromise (much like this initiative)

  67. Rob Power

    Again, if somebody gets back to me with a written statement from the IRS to the contrary, I will publish it far and wide, because it will be of great use to many people.

    But in the meantime, I rely on this IRS memo that says clearly that domestic partnerships are not marriage:

    http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-wd/0608038.pdf

    “In our view, the rights afforded domestic partners
    under the California Act are not “made an incident of marriage by the inveterate policy
    of the State.” The relationship between registered domestic partners under the
    California Act is not marriage under California law. Therefore, the Supreme Court’s
    decision in Poe v. Seaborn does not extend to registered domestic partners.”

    But I will agree with Aaron that there is little chance of this getting on the ballot, much less becoming law. So, setting aside how dumb it is for the LP to waste its resources on things that have zero chance of happening, I am still left with the conclusion, based on the above IRS memo, that this initiative will result in a massive tax increase, which doesn’t seem at all Libertarian to me.

    Oh, and P.S. to Seebeck — stop asking for proof that the initiative would increase state taxes. None of us ever claimed it would affect state taxes one tiny bit, and you’ve made up that argument as a straw man.

  68. libertariangirl

    I agree with Rob in as much as :
    I think when it comes to the IRS and taxes , they will increase whenever and where ever they can , of course.
    but voting for taxes isnt ALWAYS unlibertarian to me . not to change topics but we had an initiative in Nevada to regulate and control marijuana . The Nevada LP endorsed and even made it a campaign plank .

    however the initiative would have saved thousands of folks from jail and prison for minor weed possession . so to e it was no brainer for most of us as, prison is worse than taxes .

    we did however have some “purists” that disagreed , thinking it was better to always vote no on new taxes and let the folks go to and stay n prison instead.

    having said all that , in the other thread Rob makes a good point . I feel like Outright should have had a way bigger say in the decision to endorse the DPI . they are after all living this argument .

  69. Brian Holtz

    Aaron Starr has it exactly right above. Mike Seebeck nails the crucial point @52, which is that in the fantasy world where DPI gets on the ballot and actually passes, it will have successfully forced another look at the DOMA framework. In a game of chicken between DOMA and millions of married California taxpayers, I wouldn’t want to be riding with DOMA. Federal rules would probably be rewritten to restore the status quo ante faster than you can say “AIG bonus”, but that’s the worst case scenario. Hurt me with the problem of the Obama/Pelosi Democrats scrambling to revise DOMA and trying to live up to their anti-DOMA rhetoric. I would love it if DPI forced a DOMA showdown, and I’ll happily donate to Outright twice whatever extra tax liability DPI actually causes my wife and me. But two times zero is still zero, and it’s mendacious for Rob to say we on ExCom “endorsed a massive federal tax hike”.

    Here in the Real World where DPI won’t even make the ballot, Prop 8 is sure to be repealed sometime in the next decade, and the LPCA ExCom should support any effort (such as DPI) to do so. Endorsing DPI has the bonus of surfacing our issue of separating marriage and state, and that’s a good thing. The only “resources” the LPCA is spending on DPI is agenda time and press-release space, both of which have very low marginal cost.

    A first step to getting government out of marriage would be to stop calling the contracts that the government regulates “marriage”. I don’t buy Rob’s argument that “marriage” is a word that Libertarians should try to take back from religion through political means. What Libertarians should care about is contract, not “marriage”. The farther that we can separate the legal contract from all the cultural freight it’s been carrying, the better. I too would enjoy the irony of the weight of government being turned against right-wing culture warriors who have used it to promote their moralistic conception of “marriage”, but it’s not the LP’s job to change their conceptual landscape. The LP’s job is just to stop them from legislating their morality. Disconnecting civil partnerships from the M-word would be a deft move in that effort.

    Mike, YesOnEquality does now have an initiative in the pipeline for repealing Prop 8: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_j.htm.

    Rob, that IRS memo is in the context of domestic partnership being distinct from “marriage”/”matrimony”/”husband and wife” situations. In particular, the IRS memo cites the fact that California law at the time did not allow registered domestic partners to file joint income tax returns for California state tax purposes and to be taxed in the same manner as married couples for state income tax purposes. DPI would disallow the distinction that the IRS memo cited. The legal territory here is sufficiently uncharted that nobody can confidently predict the exact rulings that various bureaucrats would disgorge. However, one can easily predict how our legislators would react to the scenario you paint, and confidently making such predictions doesn’t mean one is unlibertarian.

    Debra, the LPCA ExCom that voted on this included half of Outright’s four national officers, plus our Northern Vice Chair Rich Newell (the maker of the motion) has been another prominent Outright member. DPI would repeal Prop 8, and Rob’s own press release alleges substantive harms (relative to the status quo) only to straight married Californians like me. Well, I for one am willing to take those risks. Nevertheless, we should reject the identity-politics notion that some of us are more qualified than the rest to speak up for liberty and against injustice. All rights are individual rights, and we are all individuals. (Insert obligatory Life Of Brian joke here.)

    P.S. The Outright press release invites readers to conclude that Rob resigned to protest the DPI endorsement, but Rob has admitted that he had prepared his resignation letter before he even heard of the DPI resolution.

  70. john micheil

    outright libertarians should be ashamed of themselves. I was reading up on the blog posted by them and noticed one of the quotes regarding what people are saying:

    “I have to give these kids credit.” — Frank Schubert, Yes On 8 campaign (referring to the Domestic Partnership Initiative’s supporters)

    I love how you left that out of its context (it was from the san jose mercury), when in fact Frank Schubert calls it a “fundamentally dumb idea.” He was merely giving the proponent credit for the media attention their 200 dollar filing fee got them. SO really, outright libertarians and the Yes on 8 people are on the same page.

    How can I listen to this when you’re blatantly trying to take things out of context. Stick with the truth and maybe you gain my attention, if you lie then you are no different than the yes on 8 people.

    I mean outright is right… let’s not take a “risk” of having this pass. Instead let’s spend the next 50 years burning those trillions over a Yes/No fight on “marriage”. The law isn’t set in stone, and if this passes something will come up to address that issue rather quickly, because California has too much political and economic influence to be ignored. Of course you’re not going to agree, unless you put your extremist idealism aside and realize that the only way to work things out is through compromise (much like this initiative)

  71. Robert Capozzi

    The Holtz: Debra, the LPCA ExCom that voted on this included half of Outright’s four national officers, plus our Northern Vice Chair Rich Newell (the maker of the motion) has been another prominent Outright member.

    Me: Wow! Have we been sold a bill of goods? Were these Outright members somehow silenced? What percentage of Excomm do they represent?

    Do we have a situation where we should consider the source? The source of this particular drama exclaimed, for ex., that I’m a “puppet” of a person I didn’t even know.

    Always open to alternative explanations, but one detects a pattern…could it be that now would be an excellent time to come clean?

  72. Gene Trosper

    Thanks to all of the great discussion on this issue. I’ve now decided to support the DPI. I don’t believe it will make the ballot, but it can be used to further the Libertarian agenda of rolling back state interference in our personal lives. At the very least, this initiative will begin being discussed by Californians, and that’s a good thing.

  73. Michael Seebeck

    I’m agreeing with Holtz on something here–it must be April Fools’ Day. 🙂

    The initiative Brian refers to was just recently added, and was not there at the time I posted that there was none. The Secretary of State is slow on updating their web site. I stand corrected.

    However, a quick glance at it shows it to be as incomplete as Prop 8 was, because it does not address the issues that the Prop 8 lawsuit sought to address in court, and as such that ruling has not come down yet. So it’s also premature (not to mention poorly worded). DPI is not premature, since it addresses the issue in a way not dependent on the Court’s ruling.

    If the CA Supreme Court invalidates Prop 8 because of the argument made to it being a substantial change to the constitution requiring a legislative action, then the same argument would be applicable here (if the Court punts and agrees with the argument but still upholds the amendment), assuming that such a ruling does not make the initiative a moot point.

    The simpler solution would be to amend the prepositional phrase “between a man and a woman” to “between two consenting adults or emancipated minors”. But even that gives state license to a religious ceremony.

    As for the IRS memo:

    To clarify, Section 297 of the Family Code (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=fam&group=00001-01000&file=297-297.5) explicitly defines a domestic partnership as same-gender, and explicitly denies it as opposite-gender under age 62 (at least one person), with the elderly exception under the Social Security Act. (Fred, that’s the exception you referred to @36.)

    Therefore the IRS Memo in question only applies to those cases. Not counting the age exception, it cannot apply to the case of an opposite-gender DP, because that not only is out of scope of the CA DPA as analyzed by the IRS (because it simply does not currently exist in the situation of being completely absent of and replacing marriage at the moment), but the memo does not address the SSA exception either. (And it’s not binding law anyway.)

    IOW, the IRS Memo is not applicable because the issue in question here was never addressed there in the first place. Hence the letter to the IRS, to actually request them to address the actual specific issue, not the it’s-sorta-like-this issue.

    The letter to the IRS is going out today, in proper form, to the proper part of the IRS. Before anyone accuses me of violating the Bylaws by involving government authorities in an internal party dispute, be advised that this is not an internal party dispute in the first place, and even if it could be construed as such, the letter is going out under my own name as a citizen with no mention of the party at all. I’m simply a concerned citizen asking a hypothetical tax question. So that dog won’t hunt in the first place, before anyone else thinks of that. Why I’m doing Outright’s homework for them is simple: I was asked as a favor by a friend.

    P.S. to Power: Since you basically admit there’s no state tax increase, and the allegations of a federal tax increase are based on conjecture and almost-but-not-quite scenarios that don’t apply in this case, because, the press release statement that $130 Billion in tax increases (which has no citation for that number, either) can be easily labeled as suspect for now. I stand by my position that the state analysis was limited in scope to the state issue, which IMO is the proper duty of the activities of the LPCA, and that any complaints about a federal tax issue belong with the LNC and relate to DOMA. I can also reasonably conclude that the LNC would be loathe to take it up, because they have plenty on their own plate, and also because they would correctly see DPI as a state issue.

  74. libertariangirl

    forget the tax issues for a second .
    shouldnt Outright have had more say .
    I mean after all they are living this debate and for the rest of us it is conjecture and opinion.

  75. Michael Seebeck

    LG, they knew about the initiative well in advance, and the meeting agenda where it was listed as a business item, and there was time to discuss it during the LPCA meeting. The tax issue Rob raises in the release was NOT brought up in the LPCA meeting–only afterwards. Their lack of speaking up at the time to do so is their own fault, and now they’re complaining about it. There was no blindside on this on LPCA’s part, just a lack of preparation and organization on theirs. They could easily have raised these points in the two weeks between the initiative being put out for signatures and the LPCA meeting.

  76. Brian Holtz

    Debra, half of Outright’s four national officers were at the ExCom meeting, and the resolution was introduced by a prominent Outright member. Rob had his say at the meeting, and he hasn’t added any new arguments to his case since then. (Contra Mike, I heard Rob claim at the meeting that DPI would cost married Californians their federal tax advantage, but the political naiveté of that claim hasn’t been diminished by the numbers Outright has been throwing around since our Long Beach meeting.) His case hinges on his prediction that the DPI would victimize straight married couples, so by his own admission he is not “living” the risk he says DPI poses. (He told Mike that DPI would “harm his family”, but I haven’t seen him specify how it could do so.)

    Bob, when two Libertarian leaders disagree, there are only a few for whom I’d be willing to agree with the one before hearing from the other. Rob isn’t among them, and the incident to which you allude is one of the reasons why.

  77. libertariangirl

    Brian Holtz // Apr 1, 2009 at 2:07 pm
    Debra, half of Outright’s four national officers were at the ExCom meeting, and the resolution was introduced by a prominent Outright member.
    so 2 of the National officers were there . I know half sounds better than 2 , but never the less 2 is the number. and a 3rd introduced it?
    how many members are there in Outright libs , does anyone know offhand?

  78. libertariangirl

    BH__so by his own admission he is not “living” the risk he says DPI poses.

    me__ I meant living with un-equality in general , living as a gay man , and living with discrimination every day.

  79. Rob Power

    Okay, I’m very busy at work today, but here’s my lunchtime post:

    Seebeck @ 80 (“they knew about the initiative well in advance, and the meeting agenda where it was listed as a business item”):
    Absolutely false. I have searched the LPC -Executive Committee email list from December onward for any mention of the DPI. It was never even brought up, much less discussed. And as for it being in the agenda (which we did not receive until the morning of the meeting), there is a single line under New Business, “Domestic Partnership Initiative (tentative)” — and nothing more. We had absolutely zero warning that this endorsement resolution would be introduced until literally just minutes before it passed. Even when I saw the agenda item that morning, I thought it would only be a discussion.

    And the endorsement resolution wasn’t even given to us in printed form, but rather was displayed on a screen via PowerPoint (and this wasn’t an environmental decision, either — each member was given a 16-page printed packet that morning, so saving paper clearly wasn’t the motive).

    As proof that none of us knew the endorsement resolution was coming, at the end of the Newell/Shams presentation, a member said, “I think we should write a resolution to endorse this,” and Newell said, “Funny you should mention that,” and skipped ahead in the presentation to the text of his resolution. Even the DPI supporters on the committee didn’t know we were going to vote on this, so you can imagine how much we opponents knew about it.

    Quite simply, the backers of the DPI intentionally blindsided us with that endorsement vote, because they knew that it would never pass if ExCom members got all the facts first before voting.

    Holtz @ 81:
    The way DPI harms my family is that it draws votes from the only initiative that would actually undo the harm that Prop 8 did to my family.

    libertariangirl @ 82:
    Thanks for noticing the strange way the number 2 was stated. BTW, of the 2 Outright officers on the LPC ExCom, neither of us voted for the DPI endorsement. Or to use the Holtz method of stating small numbers for effect, 0% of the Outright officers on the LPC ExCom supported this endorsement.

    As for our membership, we have several hundred people nationwide, about a hundred in California alone.

  80. robert capozzi

    Brian, it’s a damn shame that Rob seems to’ve developed a pattern of making wild, false and/or highly misleading statements. I think it’s critical that the LP present a right/left balance, both substantively and optically.

    Being a pro gay rights party is pivotal to that positioning. Rob, being a leading figure in the LP and a leader of Outright, makes it easier for right Ls to ascend in influence as he seems hellbent on undermining his own credibility.

    He should consider reading up on the famous J&J Tylenol damage control case. Admitting mistakes, fessing up, telling the truth, can quickly rebuild goodwill.

    As this thread indicates, I so wanted to take Outright’s “side” on this. At this point, however, if Rob refuses to set the record straight, my default position on ANYTHING he says will have to be met with extreme skepticism.

  81. paulie

    I think it’s critical that the LP present a right/left balance

    I agree.

    To follow that tangent, Susan Hogarth is looking for money and volunteers to staff an LP table at America’s Future Now, the progressive equivalent of CPAC, June 1-3 in DC.
    LPHQ is not interested.

    Last time I checked, she raised several hundred dollars but still needed at least $1,000 or more to rent the table. Not sure about how we’re doing on volunteers and materials to distribute.

    I sent her a list of names (including several people in this conversation) so she may have contacted you already, but I thought I’d mention it here. I’ve been holding off to let her write her own article, since she did not give me permission to spread the notice she put on the radicals list.

    I really hope that the Reform and Outright folks and others all chip on this and we get it to happen. (I’m assuming the project is still in the works, since I haven’t seen anything about it being called off).

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled faction fight.

  82. Michael Seebeck

    Rob, whether you saw the agenda in advance or not I have no direct knowledge. However, when the initiative was put into circulation, no less than the LA Times covered it, as did CNN, the SacBee, and the SF Chronicle, which is how I heard about it first (LA Times). If Outright was not aware of the DPI, and was not discussing it amongst its members on the LPCA ExComm, that’s Outright’s internal problems. I didn’t know of any endorsement resolution until I saw it myself–take that up with Richard. But I was also fairly sure there was going to be a vote, because there usually is in one form or another. Anyone who is even semi-regular at the meetings knows that.

    You also saw the agenda item and didn’t bother to ask about it while the agenda was being approved.

    So my statement is entirely true. It was public knowledge in advance; it was on the agenda; and there certainly was time to discuss it during the meeting. You can’t sit there and claim that “absolutely false” when it is undoubtedly true, with witnesses.

    You were simply unprepared.

  83. Michael Seebeck

    Brian, I will admit to not hearing that. What I did hear was a bunch of irrelevant blather on international perceptions, all of which was irrelevant to the issue at hand. As I said before, it was a message for a different audience.

    In any case, I’m done arguing this. Rob can throw all the tantrums he wants, as is his right. He’ll throw his weight behind the other initiative, as poorly written and premature as it is, and the chips will fall where they may. In the meantime, I have plenty of other things party-related to take care of.

  84. Michael Seebeck

    To echo Paulie @87, most definitely. I do hear that LPVA is fronting the volunteers and the actual booth and materials, and that the need is cash nationwide and extra people in the DC area.

  85. Brian Holtz

    Rob is right that ExCom as a body had no more notice about the DPI endorsement than the line on that morning’s printed agenda. However, Rob is wrong to say that this amount of notice amounts to “blindsiding”. For example, there was no more notice given in Sep 2007 for our endorsements at that month’s meeting of the ANSWER anti-war rally and the AB43 gay marriage bill.

    Rob is also wrong to suggest that before this agenda item was discussed there was some kind of factional split between DPI “supporters” and “opponents”, so that “backers” of DPI could “blindside” its opponents. I doubt if anybody on ExCom besides the 3 Outright members and our Chair had even heard of DPI before the meeting.

    Rob is also very likely wrong to claim that the resolution wouldn’t have passed if ExCom knew then what it knows now. I doubt Rob can name a single ExCom member who now says he would vote differently, especially after Rob’s press release said we “endorsed a massive federal tax hike”. (Is this an example of the political acumen of the Outright leadership?)

    Rob, thank you for admitting that the passage of DPI would not harm your family, and would in fact not only help your family (by repealing Prop 8) but would (according to you) cost my family thousands of dollars. I continue to find it odd for you to worry that LPCA endorsement of DPI could put Prop 8 repeal at risk, when only a couple of weeks ago you were itching to bet that the 1% vote total of a paper LPCA candidate for governor could never tip an election away from Tom Campbell. Maybe I’ll change my mind about the political calculus when (as you claim is imminent) the LA Times finally exposes the conservative conspiracy behind DPI.

    Debra complained that Outright wasn’t consulted, and it’s clearly more relevant to know that half of Outright’s national officers were in the room than to know merely that two were in the room. But of course, I gave both pieces of information. Meanwhile, Rob, you say that 0% of the Outright officers supported the DPI endorsement, but what you don’t tell our readers is that the other Outright officer abstained rather than vote with you. (Similarly, you conveniently declined to point out that you were going to resign even before you knew about the DPI resolution.) Thus only 1 of the 3 Outright members in the room opposed the resolution.

    What this comes down to is a set of questions for your political intuitions:

    * Do you think DPI is a Republican/conservative conspiracy?
    * Do you think DPI has any chance in hell of getting the 700K signatures needed to get on the ballot?
    * Do you think that DPI somehow getting on the ballot would delay Prop 8 repeal?
    * Do you think that the Obama/Pelosi regime would let DPI passage cost married Californians hundreds of billions in lost tax advantage?
    * Do you fear (rather than welcome) a hypothetical game of chicken between DOMA and millions of married Californians?
    * Do you think “marriage” is a label that the LP should try to help win back from the religious right using electoral politics, instead of having the LP advocate for government neutrality in the culture war?

    Rob apparently answers a confident “yes” to each of these questions, but my answers for now are all still provisionally “no”. If Rob ever does come up with evidence that DPI is a conservative conspiracy, then I will move to reconsider our endorsement.

  86. Allan Wallace

    All of you, especially Seebeck are arguing semantics and irrelevancies. Only LibertarianGirl has made any attempt to frame this argument around its roots.

    It all boils down to this, “YOU EITHER BELIEVE THAT GAYS AND LESBIANS ARE DESERVING OF EQUAL RIGHTS, OR NOT!”

    If you believe we are, then you are taking the philosophical and historically correct LIBERTARIAN point of view. Because it has been in our LP Platform since the very first one in 1972.

    If you don’t believe that we are so deserving, then you will support ANYTHING BUT TRUE EQUALITY UNDER THE LAW. DPI does nothing libertarian and will simply make more people suffer the same inequality gays and lesbians have always suffered.

    The only measure in California that has a Snowballs Chance in Hell of passing in the near future is the repeal of Proposition 8.

    ANYTHING else simply gives closet homophobes in the LP a reason to call themselves libertarian AT OUR EXPENSE.

    Getting the government out of Marriage is a Pipe Dream, unattainable in my lifetime. And DPI is SO UN-Libertarian that only a gay-hating libertarian could like it. And, if that person happens to be gay or bisexual himself, it is all the more unbelievable.

    Closeted anti-gay straights make rhetorical arguments to justify why they support inequality while gays and lesbians continue to suffer inequality for decades more, and I am sick of it.

    Loose YOUR spouse of more than 15 years, and in the heart of your grief, suffer the worry that his family will force the sell of the home you built together in spite of all the paperwork that it is legal to enact. And, the HUNDREDS if not thousands of other INEQUITIES in a system that favors straights and hurts gays and lesbians. And, NO I am not talking about tax favors and other taxpayer funded benefits.

    EITHER YOU ARE FOR EQUALITY UNDER THE LAW, OR YOU ARE NOT! It really is just that simple!

  87. Susan Hogarth

    Re: LP tabling at AFN ’09

    Please do contact me (hogarth@gmail.com or 919-906-2106) if you would like to contribute time, materials, and/or effort.

    AFN ’09 is happening June 1-3, all weekdays. There will be a table representing the LP there.

    ESPECIALLY needed are people who are willing and able to contribute organizing effort – for fundraising, materials coordination, and volunteer recruitment and organizing.

    There does seem to be a lot of interest within the LP in this, so I think we will be expanding into supporting the LP by tabling at more events. Several events/conferences are under consideration now.

    This is a non-factional effort, meant to increase the LP’s outreach efforts, especially to the left, but also to antiwar, anti-prohibition, pro-civil-rights, and right-leaning groups and events. Did I leave anyone out? 😉

  88. Zander Collier

    I’ve been watching this unfold for the past few days and am more than happy to state, that as Southern Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of California, I seconded Rob’s motion to make this a role-call vote. I don’t believe there is anything to be ashamed of in this vote. I voted yes enthusiastically.

    What I saw was a reasoned presentation, followed by a deliberative question and answer period. I was told that EQCA and the HRC were both invited to come make presentations. LPCA was either refused (as I understand was the case for HRC), or was simply ignored (as I understand the case was for EQCA). Mind you, I didn’t learn of the refusals before the vote, but after.

    While I do not doubt the earnestness of Rob’s motivations, I very much doubt his means. I believe the press release that has gone out, and the press releases that Rob threatens to continue to put out are disingenuous, and unfortunately in classic neo-conservative fashion engage in strawman arguments: creating issues and drama where none should exist, and attempting to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD).

    I will tell you that before arriving at the meeting, I had no idea that I would be asked to make a vote on DPI. I will tell you that while the discussion was unfolding, the presentation of the ideas struck me as patently Libertarian and that is why I voted yes unashamedly.

    Where I will call Rob and Outright Libertarians to task on this is not only what I believe is disingenuousness on the issue, but frankly, what I believe is a bait-and-switch.

    Part of official LPCA support for No on 8 was contingent on the argument (and I made this argument myself to many) that until such a day existed where we could get government out of marriage, that the principle of equality before the law demanded that the LP support the equal right of gays to marry. I still believe that unwaveringly. Supporting No on 8 was, as I the case was made to me, and as I made it to others, supposed to be a step on the path to abolishing state interference in the institution of marriage.

    Now Rob and certain members of Outright (because I don’t believe that the rank and file necessarily share leadership’s opinion) say that support of DPI is going to “raise taxes” and is, “unLibertarian”. I think this is FUD carried to a level that is insulting.

    If I had known that this is how the LPCA was going to be subsequently treated by Outright in standing up for gays and other minorities, I don’t think I would have voted differently, but I would be far less interested with promoting and supporting the agenda of people who were knowingly making false representations in order to get our support.

    I certainly would be issuing an alarm that “official state-sanctioned same-sex marriage” was the end-goal of certain members of Outright, and was not, as promised, “a step along the path” to equality before the law for everyone.

  89. Allan Wallace

    Holtz (91), Your questions are irrelevant. And, your arguments and math are so transparently wrong that they don’t need a response.

    Except for this:
    If two self-professed Republicans come up with a plan like DPI, then you can bet your sweet bippy that it serves Republican or Conservative ends.

  90. Allan Wallace

    Collier (94),

    No Outright member I know of supports Marriage Equality as the “end-goal”! Like all good libertarians we believe that the end-goal is getting government OUT of marriage altogether.

    If DPI is not winable or even viable, then that is a reason NOT to support it. DPI is in no way libertarian because it keeps government involved.

    If you want to support an unwinnable initiative, then propose one yourself that is libertarian and proposes an end to all federal and state involvement in marriage.

    At least that would serve Libertarian ends as an educational tool, if nothing else.

  91. Michael Seebeck

    As a child of divorce, step-parents, raised in a household with two female parents, and grandson of a clergy marriage, married with children of my own, and close friends with unmarried partners in a committed relationship, plus friends with others in marriages from every level of success to failed, I’ve seen or been in almost every type of martial relationship short of polygamy there is. ALL of them that succeed, including my own, do so not on their legal status, but on their love status. All of them that have failed did so for the EXACT same reason.

    That’s was so mind-boggling about this–the utter desperation to achieve a legal status by government as if it were some sort of Holy Grail, some ultimate prize like The Quickening or Frodo’s Ring, as if it had anything to do with the success or failure of the relationship. The vow of marriage is before whatever god the couple chooses to believe in–or none at all–and if a couple is so dependent on the *state* to sanctify what should be in their hearts, then something is wrong with their heads. The only reason my wife and I did that (get a marriage license and wear the silly wedding costumes, etc.) was to satisfy the parents, not each other, and certainly not the state–we could have easily declared a common-law marriage and it wouldn’t have made any difference in our love and commitment to each other. Our annual handfastings and renewal of vows are not recognized by any state at all, yet for all intents and purposes they serve as the equivalent of a religious marriage. We don’t *need* the state to validate it, because we validate it ourselves.

    Does the love and commitment of a couple really need approval or validation by the state in the form of a license to wed? I say “no”. I live “no” as well. So do 11 states and DC.

    And *that’s* the core of the issue–state sponsorship or not.

  92. Brian Holtz

    Allan, you say “DPI does nothing libertarian”. DPI in fact repeals Prop 8, and only does one other thing: rename “marriage” to “domestic partnership”. That renaming doesn’t really “get government out of marriage”, but it would be a commendable first step. I’d ask you to explain how that renaming would force you to sell your house upon your partner’s death, but you don’t seem to be interested in rational civil discourse here.

    Since you are an Outright State Coordinator, your hysterical statement that “only a gay-hating libertarian could like” DPI sheds a lot of light on the thinking behind the recent Outright press release. Thanks.

    Zander, don’t hold Rob’s behavior against the Outright Libertarians or their issues. Just consider how many of the 100 Outright members in California whom you have heard from on this issue. I’ve only heard from one (Starchild), and he has had no further complaints after hearing the other side of the story.

  93. libertariangirl

    BH__Debra complained that Outright wasn’t consulted, and it’s clearly more relevant to know that half of Outright’s national officers were in the room than to know merely that two were in the room.

    me __ i havent complained about anything B, I asked a relevant question . @ ouright national leaders were in the room? did either of them have a vote?

    heres a crazy idea , before anybody went endorsing , why not put a unofficially binding vote to the 100 members of outright in California ? that makes sense to me being that they are the folks the initiative would affect and the group I would consult if the decision were mine.

  94. Zander Collier

    Brian Holtz @ 98.

    As you may have read, I don’t believe the rank-and-file of Outright necessarily share in Rob’s outburst. And while I may have been more exaggerated than I meant to imply, I certainly didn’t mean to state that I would paint the Outright membership with that same brush.

  95. libertariangirl

    Is it me or does Mike Seebeck seem kinda snotty and rude over the whole thing.
    he accudes Rob of all sorts of things , but his tone is pretty snarky and mean .

    thats really unlike him too

  96. Gene Berkman

    As an atheist and a limited government libertarian, I think civil marriage was a revolutionary step forward, giving couples an alternative to Church sanctioned unions. References to leaving marriage in the churches where it belongs leave me cold.

    Aside from the merits or demerits of using DPI to get government out of marriage (which it does not do) there is a public relations issue.
    Opponents of non-discriminatory marriage always claim that allowing same sex marriage will make their marriage meaningless.

    A proposal to completely eliminate marriage as a legal option will be used by the bigots and traditionalists as confirmation of their claims about those who promote non-discriminatory marriage.

  97. Brian Holtz

    Update: Starchild now replies to me saying that renaming “marriage” to DP would “cement the current role of government by making that role once again non-controversial”. I replied that contract enforcement is /supposed/ to be non-controversial.

    Debra, Mike is just returning some of Rob’s snarkiness. Please re-read what he’s written about all the people in the room in Long Beach who dared to disagree with the wisdom he was dispensing there.

    It makes no sense for the Outright membership to control LPCA endorsement of what their own leadership says is an initiative whose enactment would harm only straight Californians. Would you have only female Libertarians decide the LP’s abortion plank? Would you have only immigrant Libertarians decide the LP’s immigration policy? The LP should stand for individual rights, not group rights or identity politics.

    Gene, you’re not distinguishing between marriage as a religio-cultural practice and marriage as a two-party legal contract. The DPI would not “eliminate marriage as a legal option”. It would just change the label on the contract that you sign backstage after you take your ceremonial vows (or jump your broom or whatever). Any change that makes government rules about pair-bonding seem more like a contract and less like a sacrament is a Good Thing. It’s simply astonishing that any self-described libertarian could disagree with the previous sentence. Any takers?

  98. libertariangirl

    BH__Debra, Mike is just returning some of Rob’s snarkiness. Please re-read what he’s written about all the people in the room in Long Beach who dared to disagree with the wisdom he was dispensing there.

    me__ I agree Rob has been snarky too and probably jumped the gun some by the press release . But if anyones overreacting deserves excusing its his.
    you , being a white , straight , able bodied , goodlooking:) , financially stable, male , have no idea what its like to suffer discrimination evry day of your life . and you have no idea what that could do to your emotions when it appears allies and friends arent taking that into account.

    BH__It makes no sense for the Outright membership to control LPCA endorsement of what their own leadership says is an initiative whose enactment would harm only straight Californians

    ME–?what i said was :
    why not put a unofficially binding vote to the 100 members of outright in California ?

    what i meant was unofficially non-binding vote .
    meaning since most members arent gay , and any veiws are based on conjecture and opinion , why not CONSULT the 100 members of Outright , before you make a decision that would affect that particular contistuency.

    Of course the poll would be just that and not binding on the CLP excomm . But it would be a good idea to actually get the opinions of the people living this debate. No?

  99. Gene Berkman

    (a) Yes, Libertarianism is about individuals and individual rights. But individuals do have characteristics, and state oppression falls on individuals often as a result of specific characteristics.

    So, Outright Libertarians should be consulted when an issue involves rights of gay people. Women in the LP should make their views known on abortion, and should be listened to. Of course ultimately the membership, or the appropriate committee or convention makes the decision.

    (b) In a free society where people widely accept libertarian views, replacing marriage with civil union or domestic partnership might not be controversial. In our present society, opponents of non-discriminatory marriage constantly invoke the threat to traditional marriage as a reason for opposition. A proposition that eliminates the word marriage, even if it keeps all the rights & obligations thereto, would be used by our opponents to claim they were right in seeing us as a threat to their concept of marriage.

    (c) the campaign for non-discriminatory marriage is making progress, and a proposal like DPI is probably more likely to threaten that progress than promote, but others are welcome to disagree.

  100. paulie

    Re: LP tabling at AFN ‘09

    Please do contact me (hogarth@gmail.com or 919-906-2106) if you would like to contribute time, materials, and/or effort.

    AFN ‘09 is happening June 1-3, all weekdays. There will be a table representing the LP there.

    ESPECIALLY needed are people who are willing and able to contribute organizing effort – for fundraising, materials coordination, and volunteer recruitment and organizing.

    There does seem to be a lot of interest within the LP in this, so I think we will be expanding into supporting the LP by tabling at more events. Several events/conferences are under consideration now.

    This is a non-factional effort, meant to increase the LP’s outreach efforts, especially to the left, but also to antiwar, anti-prohibition, pro-civil-rights, and right-leaning groups and events. Did I leave anyone out? 😉

    Would you like to write it up as an article? I was leaving it to you, but I can do it if you don’t want to.

  101. Susan Hogarth

    Would you like to write it up as an article?

    Maybe. Let me consider.

    I was leaving it to you, but I can do it if you don’t want to.

    Thanks!

  102. Allan Wallace

    Holtz (104)

    I most certainly can disagree with your “previous statement” because your “Any change” could easily include language that would cement the role of government as a third party to that “two-party legal contract”.

    But that isn’t even the best reason to disagree with that and many other things you have said: everyone knows that if you get the government out of marriage completely that all that is left is a legal contract, verbal or written. But, this is a side issue to the main issue of equal rights under the law.

    I am sick and tired of all the straight libertarians that marry and take full advantage of all the perks both personal and monetary of marriage. But they tell us that we should not expect equal treatment under the law, that we must wait until that distant date when we have a libertarian utopia to be equal.

    Too many of you say that government marriage is evil, yet you go right out and marry, signing your government license and collecting your government bootie. I admire the few libertarian straight couples I have known for their integrity in sticking to libertarian principle even when it costs them more in taxes and they run the same risks gays and lesbians do in other situations.

    NO, you demand your rights when you visit your critically ill spouse in the hospital when some nurse stops you outside the room. You point to your ring and demand your right to see your spouse. Yet, for a gay or lesbian couples, that nurse is very likely to tell us “the patient’s blood relatives have banned you from seeing the patient, there is nothing I can do.”

    If you claim your marriage rights under the law and work against equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians, you are not just un-libertarian, you are a HYPOCRITE.

    If you think that we Outright Libertarians are getting emotional about this, you are damned right we are, JUST AS EMOTIONAL AS YOU WOULD BE IF YOU HAD TO LIVE A LIFE IN OUR SHOES… Just as emotional as you would be if it was YOUR equal rights under the law, and people who had traditionally been your allies and friends spoke up and took a visible public action against YOUR best interests.

    I don’t want to hear any more pissing and moaning about the stand Outright took in its Press Release, when it was the California LP that drew first blood.

  103. Rob Power

    Regarding Collier’s claim @ 94 of supporting No on 8, please note that he did NOT vote for the motion to send a Constant Contact email to California Libertarians asking them to vote No on Prop 8 (that motion failed by one vote), much less did he or the rest of the LPC leadership broadcast a general public press release against Prop 8, as they did in favor of DPI. Similarly, when I submitted my article against Prop 8 (which thank to Thomas Sipos was printed in the California Freedom newspaper) to be listed on http://ca.lp.org, the article was rejected. Meanwhile, they have published a pro-DPI article on that same page (basically just a reprint of their press release).

    Once again, look at the behavior of the people who are supporting DPI and contrast that with their behavior regarding Prop 8 leading up to last November, and I think a very clear pattern emerges.

    To me, it’s painfully obvious what’s going on here. The usual suspects who attack the LP’s long-standing social stances (abortion rights, gay rights, drug rights, etc.) are the ones dominating this discussion. The same guys who tried to take abortion rights out of the platform in Denver (and will try it again in 2010, mark my words) are leading the charge in this thread.

    But I sure do give them credit for being organized. Too bad the personal-freedoms crowd can’t learn a lesson from them in that regard. If the overwhelming delegate vote in Denver to put back the abortion rights plank that these guys nuked on PlatCom is any indication, well over 2/3 of the LP membership “gets it” that pandering to the religious right isn’t at all strategic, much less Libertarian. We’re just not nearly as organized as the other 1/3, which is why it always looks like we’re about to lose, right up until the vote at convention.

    I’m confident that the delegates to the LPC convention in a few weeks will likewise overturn the DPI endorsement. But these guys are going to keep calling me every name in the book in the meantime. That’s politics.

  104. Brian Holtz

    Debra, 20% of the ExCom that voted on DPI were members of Outright. How much higher would that number have to be for Outright to have a sufficient voice on such questions?

    I’d love to consult with Outright Californians on such questions, but I’ve been banned from the lists of both Outright and LPSF. Guess who is the Chair of both? For the full history, see
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/marketliberal/message/2253
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/marketliberal/message/2539

    Gene, the Republican platform tells us that “the traditional understanding of marriage” requires “a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it”. So yes, such conservatives are “right in seeing us as a threat to their concept of marriage”. I don’t know whether these conservatives would be offended more by marriage equality than by partnership equality, and I don’t really care. I just want the LP to stand up for the idea that, apart from enforcing voluntary contracts, government has no legitimate authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Renaming “marriage” to “domestic partnership” seems to me to move us toward a world in which government’s only interest in couples is to enforce their voluntary contracts.

  105. libertariangirl

    You gotta be effin kidding Rob!
    Are you saying the LPCA didnt put out a silmilar resolution condemning prop 8?
    WTF?
    where were you guys on that one> Mike? Brian?

    no god damn wonder Rob is so pissed..

  106. Gene Trosper

    This is one Libertarian who fought hard against prop 8. While government licensing of relationships exist, EVERYONE deserves equality in “marriage” (or whatever one wants to call it). This is also one Libertarian who wants government OUT of personal relationships. I don’t believe it’s a “right” to license one’s relationship any more than it’s a right to license one’s automobile or to stand in line at the DMV to get “permission” to drive. The only right one needs is the right of contract. For me, the DPI is a way of stating a conversation with friends, relatives and co-workers about the government role in marriage.

  107. libertariangirl

    Ok so California Freedom did a story on it , and many good Californian Lpers fought against it.

    but did the LPC issue a resolution condemning Prop 8 officially or did they issue a public press release doing the same? Rob says they didnt and that they voted down to send an constant contact( whatever that is) email to CLP members urging a no vote.
    are these things all true?

  108. Brian Holtz

    Let’s put some names to the bogeymen that Rob imagines are conspiring against him, and see if this theory holds any more water than his notion that DPI is a Republican conspiracy.

    Rob complains that Zander and other LPCA officers didn’t oppose Prop 8 as much as they could. I agree, and I worked with Rob to force an email vote on the question. We fell one vote short. The LPCA officers were arguing the politics of the matter — asking what reciprocal recognition we would get from the anti-8 forces — while Rob and I argued that we should just stand up for our Libertarian principles, regardless of such political concerns. (Now Rob is, by his own account, arguing pragmatism/politics over principle in saying that the alleged political consequences of DPI count more than its substance. My position remains that asserting mainstream libertarian principles are in the long run always the LP’s best politics.)

    But note that Rob’s Prop 8 bogeymen — Zander and some of our other officers — have (AFAIK) had nothing whatsoever to do with what Rob claims are “attack[s on] the LP’s long-standing social stances (abortion rights, gay rights, drug rights, etc.)”. Rob’s finger here is trying to point at me, because I helped move the Platform toward ecumenical libertarianism and away from Rothbardian anarcholibertarianism. But the truth is that I have never “attacked” the LP’s principles on “gay rights” or “drug rights”, and in fact Rob saw me argue vigorously on PlatCom in their defense. It’s true that the 2008 PlatCom proposed silence on abortion, but Rob should know that I advocated having our committee report mirror the delegates’ plank retention vote on abortion — which I correctly predicted would fail to remove it. Rob has seen me argue on the 2010 PlatCom against removing the abortion plank, so it’s shameful when he predicts his bogeymen “will try it again in 2010, mark my words”. Nobody else “leading the charge in this thread” is a member of PlatCom or the Reform Caucus leadership except me. (The only other charge-leader here is Mike Seebeck, who has nothing but disdain for Platform reform efforts.) Rob is trying to discredit me by associating me with 1) LPCA Prop 8 idleness that he knows I opposed and 2) efforts to “pander to the religious right” that he’s seen me oppose on PlatCom. He claims he’s being “called names”, but what he’s doing here is indeed “just politics”.

    I chuckled at Rob’s comment above that “it always looks like we’re about to lose, right up until the vote at convention”. During the 2008 Platform cycle Rob consistently predicted that the Denver delegates would reject the PlatCom majority report out of hand, and he was spectacularly wrong. In fact, the only substantive change the delegates made to the reformers’ Vegas draft was in the same abortion plank that I warned should be tied to the plank retention vote. Rob, I’ll be happy to make a bet with you on whether the upcoming LPCA convention will repudiate ExCom’s endorsement of DPI. (Note that re-re-affirming our opposition to Prop 8 would not count as repudiation.) And if you dare read to the delegates all the histrionic comments of Outright leader Allan Wallace above, I’ll give you 10-1 odds on that bet.

    Allen, what straight Libertarians are “tell[ing you] that we should not expect equal treatment under the law”? Contract enforcement is not a “side issue to equal rights under the law”. If you rename marriage to “domestic partnership” to sound more like a contract than a sacrament, then you of course make it harder to deny equal rights under the law. (And of course, DPI repeals Prop 8 outright.)

    The contract vs. sacrament distinction is the key to the most charitable hypothesis I can muster for Rob’s behavior here, aside from easy theories involving factionalism and paranoia. He seems to admit that his agenda is to undo the religious takeover of the marriage label-plus-legal-concept that has occurred in the West sometime in the last millennium or so (similar to how Christmas earlier took over winter solstice). On the verge of that double-victory in the culture war (where despite Rob’s protests this rabid atheist is firmly on his side), he does not want to sever the connection between the label and the legal concept. By contrast, I’m willing to accept political victory on just the legal concept, and to fight for the “marriage” label outside the political arena. Rob claims that his position is the pragmatic/incrementalist one, but I read him as determined to win that double-victory and rejecting half a loaf. I too welcome that impending double-victory, but I don’t mind using DPI to promote the separation of marriage and state.

    Debra, no, there were no LPCA resolutions or press releases on Prop 8, just the California Freedom front-page article that Paulie linked to. Yes, it’s true that the LPCA ExCom considered a motion directing our officers to “place a No-on-8 logo and link on the ca.lp.org front page, and send out a No-on-8 email to our Constant Contact distribution list”. You know who made that motion? Me. It failed 7-0-1, but it needed a majority of eligible positions (8 out of 15) to pass. (The one explicit abstention was from one of the three people who voted against endorsing DPI, further undercutting Rob’s us-vs-them theories.) To Rob’s credit, the recent Outright press release was very gracious in saying “the Libertarian Party of California was a full partner in the No On 8 coalition”, even though the LPCA could have done more.

    Gene, your paragraph about DPI says all that needs to be said. Now, if you’re straight, prepare to be called a “closet homophobe”, and if you’re married, a “hypocrite”. Don’t worry, it’s “just politics”.

  109. Robert Capozzi

    AW @ 92: The only measure in California that has a Snowballs Chance in Hell of passing in the near future is the repeal of Proposition 8.
    ANYTHING else simply gives closet homophobes in the LP a reason to call themselves libertarian AT OUR EXPENSE.
    Getting the government out of Marriage is a Pipe Dream, unattainable in my lifetime.

    Me: Is there ANYTHING that says the LPC can’t support BOTH DPI and repeal of Prop 8?

    I really don’t feel I need to defend myself or my views, but I am L, straight, for equal rights, and non-homophobic. If OUTRIGHT’s attempt wonkish analysis of “snowball’s chances” are represented by their press release on DPI are any indication of their ability to handicap “snowball’s chances,” then I will say that important organization in the LP needs to look in the mirror.

    As this thread indicates, this VA L — a casual observer — found OUTRIGHT’s argument persuasive, until the facts were laid out. Facts about VT and IRS codes were thrown out as supportive of the OUTRIGHT position. They were quickly dismissed as sophomoric analysis, as I read them.

    I saw Brian Doherty — husband of Angela Keaton — at the Cato Institute a while back speak about the schisms in L world. He attributed it to Freud’s “narcissism of small differences.” That seems to be at play here.

    Concerns about right/conservative L-ism are well founded. It’s offensive to me, however, that my measured opinion of this episode is a mask for homophobia by straight Ls. Were I a child, I might suggest that heterophobia might be at play here, but I won’t.

    I’d hope this turns out to be, as y’all say in CA, a “teachable moment.”

  110. Zander Collier

    Power @112:
    I find it ironic that you would complain about LPCa not putting a “No on 8” image on our website and send out a “No on 8” email out to registered Libertarians when, from this vantage point, I can only see this as the “tail wagging the dog”. While it is generous in the press release to state that “the Libertarian Party of California is a full partner”, these boots on the ground read those words as an after-the-fact positioning on what was obviously a before-the-fact lack of action. The No on 8 campaign had the Democratic Party listed as a supporter on their website. I would have thought that a “full partner” would have merited the same treatment. Apparently all full partners are equal, it’s just that some are more equal than others.

    I would have been more than happy to support the partnership on the LPCa website if it’d had been demonstrated that we were actual full partners. However, just as I am sick of Republicans attempting to court our support but offering nothing in return, I have no reason to accept a similar deal from the Democrats – especially since I want the LP to have greater outreach to the Left. A No-On-8 website mention and email out to our own members does nothing to increase our outreach to the Left (since they’re not in the party) and serves greatly to harm our relationship with our existing membership – many of whom wanted us to take no position on this issue. That same many who wanted us to take no position refused to be as generous with the party because of the stand we took. I didn’t see you stepping forward to make up the difference, nor did I see you appealing to Outright to make up that difference.

    Holtz @ 120:
    Rob really doesn’t seem to understand that regarding me as a political bogeyman is neither in his interest, nor is it good politics. I joined the LP not for reasons of economic freedom, but of personal freedom. I support the idea of allowing gay people access to the same franchise of rights as straight people. I joined the LP because of the drug war issue, the american imperialism issue, and personal privacy issues. Those remain my top issues, not taxes. When Rob doesn’t get his way, he cannot chalk it up to a genuine, but well-intentioned difference of opinion, but instead takes it personally and engages in scorched-earth campaigns. I will admit that engaging in scorched-earth campaigns is very emotionally satisfying, but I seldom if ever have found that in the realm of american politics that they are all that effective.

    Robert @121
    Yes, there is nothing stopping LPCa from supporting both, and I am certainly open to the idea. Rob’s histrionics make it difficult to keep an open mind.

  111. libertariangirl

    Good for you then Brian . and shame on the the members of your excomm who voted not to help out the no on 8 folks.

    I make no accusations against you , so stop takijg it personal . I , not being there or a member of the CLP , am just trying to get the story straight.

    How the CLP , you removed , could vote to NOT support no on 8 more , is a travesty.

  112. Gene Trosper

    @120

    My sexual orientation makes no whit of difference. I am an individual. I support individuals and the rights of individuals. I don’t play politics based on group identity.

    If people wish to call me a homophobe, then good for them. Name calling won’t prevent me from upholding the rights of the individual.

    Thanks for your comments, Brian.

  113. Gene Trosper

    @124

    You are absolutely correct! Thanks for the reminder that we all should stand up for what’s right.

  114. Brian Holtz

    Debra, Rob and I weren’t the only ones who voted to support Prop 8 more. Five others did too. The only ExCom member who voted against it was a radical who voted on the principle that the LP should not advocate fixing the government’s marriage machinery when we should instead oppose the existence of the machine. As Zander said, there are quite a few Libertarians who look at this issue this way. Many of them are from the LP’s radical wing, where Rob sought allies in the Platform struggle. It’s interesting how the “Libertopia now!” battle cry can change so quickly to “Pragmatism!” if the issue is right. (I still don’t see what’s impractical about advocating both Prop 8 repeal and renaming marriage to partnership, but Rob has said that his purported pragmatism here stands in contrast to positions that he says pragmatists criticize as “purist”.)

  115. libertariangirl

    If five more voted to do more and only 1 voted against it , how did it not pass? now i really am confused

    I find the ‘reciprocal recognition’ argument absolute bull-crap .So by Zanders beliefs if the GOP , by some act of god , started an initiative to lower taxes or lessen government etc , unless we got front page billing also we shouldnt publicly support it n our website or promote it to our members?

    or does the ‘reciprocal recogntion’ argument only apply to the gay issue?

  116. libertariangirl

    Z_ The No on 8 campaign had the Democratic Party listed as a supporter on their website

    me_ so what , we cant support a great idea or rather oppose a very evil one because the Dems might get some credit . Hello , McFly it isnt about what Party is partner its about equal rights for gays , i thought . silly naive me

    Z_That same many who wanted us to take no position refused to be as generous with the party because of the stand we took. I didn’t see you stepping forward to make up the difference, nor did I see you appealing to Outright to make up that difference.

    me _ are you kidding Zander ? are you saying that many CLP members are anti-gay and withheld financial support because of the minimal lip service the LPC did for no on 8.

    man am i glad i dont live in California , ill take my dinky ,small time but principled NevadaLP.

    Z–and serves greatly to harm our relationship with our existing membership – many of whom wanted us to take no position on this issue.

    me _ you gotta be kidding , who are these many LPC members who liked Prop. 8. I find that ludicrous ecsp. in California.

  117. Michael Seebeck

    Brian @120:

    (The only other charge-leader here is Mike Seebeck, who has nothing but disdain for Platform reform efforts.)

    “Disdain” isn’t the word. “Apathy” is more like it. I’d rather work on building the party infrastructure. 🙂

    And to be clear, because I’m not on the LPCA ExComm, I have had no vote on these issues, and outside of presenting the ballot analyses, no real say, either, and no direct knowledge to either confirm or refute anything regarding internal LPCA ExComm list emails.

  118. Michael Seebeck

    As far as the other Prop 8 repeal goes, Legislative is aware of it, but has not done any formal analysis on it yet.

    I prefer to wait until the CA SC ruling on Prop 8 first if at all possible.

  119. Gene Berkman

    Just for the record, the Riverside County Libertarian Party sent a postcard to 2100 active Libertarian voters urging a “No on Prop 8” vote along with a vote for Bob Barr for President.

    The combination seemed exotic enough.

  120. Becky

    The type of discussion this has engendred here illustrates the fatal flaw of modern libertarianism–a whole bunch of BS philosophizing–and everything either becomes too fractured to be effective or everyone becomes to confused to know what they believe.

    This issue is really simple. No person who believes in basic fundamental libertarian values would vote for Proposition 8.

    Likewise no true libertarian, who was not over thinking the thing, would oppose the Domestic Partnership Initiative–indeed it is the ideal– a step toward getting the government out of the marriage business:
    http://www.girlinshortshorts.blogspot.com/2009/03/homo-and-homophobic-bipartisanship.html

    It is not necessary to spend countless hours arguing political tactics, how the federal government might react, how it fits into the oppressive and offensive IRS Tax Code and so on.

    You see, we are not a political powerhouse that can succeed by building coalitions and partnerships–for libertarian values to succeed we must be a shining light of truth, reason, freedom and liberty to the rest world–not a crack pot all night dormitory BS session.

    ~Becky

  121. paulie

    Brian:

    efforts to “pander to the religious right” that he’s seen me oppose on PlatCom.

    Robert:

    Concerns about right/conservative L-ism are well founded.

    Zander:

    I joined the LP because of the drug war issue, the american imperialism issue, and personal privacy issues. Those remain my top issues, not taxes

    Great! I hope all of you help support the AFN outreach table in whatever ways you can if you haven’t already.

    See comments 87, 90, 107-110.

  122. paulie

    Reciprocal recognition ? hogwash!
    sometimes you just gotta stand up for whats right no matter who gets the recognition

    True.

  123. paulie

    If five more voted to do more and only 1 voted against it , how did it not pass? now i really am confused

    They had fifteen people on the committee but a bunch of them didn’t vote, although they didn’t vote to abstain either. They needed 8 votes to pass.

  124. libertariangirl

    Becky_The type of discussion this has engendred here illustrates the fatal flaw of modern libertarianism–a whole bunch of BS philosophizing–and everything either becomes too fractured to be effective or everyone becomes to confused to know what they believe.

    Me_ Becky this is a blog , not an excomm meeting or a convention or anything official . the whole point of a participatory blog is to be an all night dorm bs-ing session

  125. Brian Holtz

    Paulie, I’m curious whether the tablers will be “making it clear that the outright removal of the injustice and interference of the State is the LP’s ultimate goal”. If so, I’d be very hesitant to perturb this natural experiment in radical outreach to the left.

    If instead the tablers will be ecumenical, I’d be willing to create some materials promoting green libertarianism for use at AFN. I could make a variant of this frisbee design (http://marketliberal.org/Frisbee.pdf), which were scooped up pretty fast when I distributed them on the Stanford campus. I’d also be willing to donate pre-printed quizzes and an associated poster for the online quiz at http://libertarianmajority.net/.

    Maybe you guys should talk to the Democratic Freedom Caucus about possible AFN cooperation?

  126. paulie

    Paulie, I’m curious whether the tablers will be “making it clear that the outright removal of the injustice and interference of the State is the LP’s ultimate goal”. If so, I’d be very hesitant to perturb this natural experiment in radical outreach to the left.

    I guess that depends on who is tabling. I’ve been told the Virginia LP has some people who said they can do it, but I don’t know who they are.

    I do know that Susan has explicitly said this is not a caucus-specific activity, and that they still need more volunteers for the table, so if the reform caucus has people in the DC area or willing to go to DC for the event who can work at the table, they are welcome to do so.

    But unless something major has happened that I am as yet unaware of, before we can talk about who will work at the table or what they will give out, we are still a long way from having enough money to rent the table to begin with. Unless that happens, the rest is all moot.

    If you can make the difference in having the rent for the booth or not and provide materials, I don’t think that anyone will take them off the table except interested conference attenders.

    You can talk to Susan directly to see what you all can work out.

    Maybe you guys should talk to the Democratic Freedom Caucus about possible AFN cooperation?

    I believe Susan discussed cooperating with antiwar.com and was told that the conference does not allow groups to share tables. I think I remember that correctly.

  127. libertariangirl

    P-Daddy-They had fifteen people on the committee but a bunch of them didn’t vote, although they didn’t vote to abstain either. They needed 8 votes to pass.

    me_ why didnt they vote? were they present?
    i would not stand for excomm members refusing to take part in a vote when that is the primary function of their office.

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