Marc Montoni: Just What *IS* The Consistent Libertarian Position on Marriage?

Posted by Marc Montoni on his Free Virginia blog on August 23, 2013. Montoni is an IPR contributor and Libertarian Party of Virginia activist. 

Last week (August 12 – August 17, 2013) I spent the week manning the Libertarian Party table at the Rockingham County Fair.  Our candidate for governor, Rob Sarvis, was on hand on Friday (8/16) and spoke to many voters about his campaign.

One man who spoke to Rob at some length asked him what his position was on gay marriage.  Rob gave what is now a rather common libertarian answer — that we were in favor of gay marriage.  The man promptly said “well, you lost me right there.”

More recently, a local activist in Harrisonburg resigned from the newly-established city committee, apparently due to his perception that the new group was in favor of recognition of gay marriage.

These two incidents underscore what I think is a tactical error on the part of LP activists in recent years: the practice of saying we are in favor of gay marriage.

Several LP media releases have said essentially the same thing, includingone earlier this year from the Virginia LP.

Here is the text of the Libertarian Party’s platform position on same-sex marriage:

“1.3 Personal Relationships – Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.”

So let’s put it this way:  In a libertarian society marriage and incorporation would be two distinctly different institutions.

Marriage would be a religious institution where two people come together to bind their immortal souls in the presence of their creator.  Government would have zero involvement in such an institution.

Incorporation, on the other hand, would be a legal union or contract between consenting adults in the eyes of the State. Adults, whether there are 2, 3, or 10 of them could share their lives, homes, bank accounts, etc. and live in communes (forming a type of voluntary communism) if they so choose.

A much different world that would be.

So is the Libertarian Party in favor of gay marriage?

No, we’re not.

For that matter, we’re not ‘in favor’ of straight marriage, either.

When the above media release from LPVA went out, as an anarcho-cap, I would have greatly preferred that it spoke of the actual libertarian solution to the gay marriage issue:

– repealing all government laws meddling in marriage, and

– abolishing marriage licensure.

Democrats and Republicans have had ample opportunity — for years — to wipe the entire debate off the table by doing exactly the above.

But as usual, they have accomplished JACK.

“Conservatives” have a majority in the Virginia state house and a Republican is governor. Yet not a single Republican has even bothered to *introduce* a measure to eliminate marriage licenses (much less get it to a vote on the floor of the legislature). Not a single Republican has bothered to introduce a measure to reform “marriage law” by simply repealing them all and pushing marriage back into the voluntary sector; and henceforth treating marriage arrangements as we would any other contract.

Democrats and Republicans colluded to put marriage into the realm of the state in the first place.   First it was reactionary Democrats setting up marriage licenses to prevent blacks from marrying whites; now it’s reactionary Republicans attempting to use the same licensing law to keep others from arranging their marriage affairs as they see fit.

Conservatives and liberals alike can’t have it both ways. If you are happy with government definition of marriage, then don’t blame others for trying to capture that definition for themselves.

Remember: The government powerful enough to give you what you want is powerful enough to take everything you have.

Think about it.  If Christians set up the machinery to set in law their version of morality, one day atheists, gays, Democrats, Bhuddists, polyamorists, Islamists, or others will grab the steering wheel and use that same machinery to run over you.

Take power away from the state, and you can safely ignore everyone who does it differently than you would prefer.

——————————

In some ways this is kind of a non-issue for me because I think everyone — gay, straight, bi, lesbian — should boycott state marriages and return marriage to the private sector (common-law contract, churches, synagogues, etc).  Common-law marriage (which Virginia abolished many years ago) is nevertheless still recognized in Virginia if the marriage was entered into in a common-law state (full faith and credit, etc).

The state has NO business endorsing, or not endorsing, marriage.

Here’s an important reason: Regarding marriage, there are two widely divergent groups of people who cannot and will not agree to a compromise — yet both groups are forced to pay taxes.  For conservatives, it is galling that their tax money would be used to pay for endorsing/enforcing a marriage type that they are opposed to.  For the gay & lesbian community, their tax money pays for endorsing/enforcing a marriage type that they are left out of.  That is an inherent, permanent conflict.

No one should be forced to pay for things they don’t agree with.

In some ways, the GLBT community of the 1990’s made a gigantic strategic error calling for government licensure (and thus approval) of same-sex marriages.  Doing so energized the religio-statists and got them out to vote.  Twenty years later, and the two groups are still locked in mortal combat.

A better path would have been to calmly push to eliminate marriage licensure altogether (why should the state be in your bedroom, anyway?), and to train judges, arbitrators, and mediators to fairly adjudicate marriage or partnership contract disputes.

Had this been the chosen path, the alternative lifestyle lobby might have found its interests aligned with the hardline religious sector, which would probably endorse getting government out of permitting what to the religious is a sacred union that should be a matter for the couple involved, and their god.

Here is a summary review of the Libertarian position on marriage:

Libertarians favor ending all government interference in the marriage market.  For the same reason we favor repealing all restrictions on the individual ownership of firearms, we also favor the abolition of blood tests, marriage licenses, government definitions of marriage, and the repeal of all laws restricting the right of individuals to agree to agree between themselves to marry — no matter what sex, race, religion, creed, or number are involved.

At the same time, Libertarians want to eliminate the individual income tax, replace social security and medicare with private insurance, and get government out of the business of dictating who one chooses to associate or not associate with.  There are tax benefits to being married — because there are income and estate taxes. Eliminating the special treatment eliminates the desire for special interest legislation.

68 thoughts on “Marc Montoni: Just What *IS* The Consistent Libertarian Position on Marriage?

  1. Gene Berkman

    Strategically speaking, yes, Libertarians will lose some potential support by backing non-discriminatory marriage. But we will lose even more support by advocating the abolition of marriage altogether.

    The main argument people make against “gay marriage” is that they are afraid it will make their marriage meaningless. How will such people react when you tell them that actually “libertarians are for abolishing marriage”?

    As an atheist libertarian, I favor having the option of civil marriage. I did not want to marry in a church, and leaving marriages in the hands of churches (and synagogues) will leave non-religious people in the lurch.

    A civil marriage is an easier agreement to enter into than a corporation, and corporations are subject to taxes and regulations in a way marriages are not.

    I am sorry, this is not a well thought out position, but an attempt to either be more radical than thou, or an attempt to kick a controversial issue down the field.

  2. Matt Cholko

    The problem for Ls is that it so much easier to say that we support the right of anyone to marry anyone they wish. And, I think that statement is consistent with L theory. Unfortunately, without a bunch of explanation about how the state shouldn’t be involved at all, etc., it basically means that we think gay marriage is good.

    Further, I think a good number of Ls DO support “giving” homosexuals the same marriage rights as straight couples. I certainly do. I would rather get the state out of the whole thing. But, if we can’t have that, I’d prefer that gay people enjoy the same legal benefits as straight people.

    I think I’ve put it in many different ways to people when working outreach booths. Sometimes its probably based on how much talking I want to do, other times on what I think the person wants to hear.

    In theory, I agree that we should put forward the proper L position, though in a few less words than Marc used to explain it all above 🙂

  3. Jill Pyeatt

    Some of you make it sound that we should be ashamed/embarrased/apologetic about supporting marriage equality. This should be a flagship issue for us, along with stopping the drug war and supporting the second amendment. Most Libertarians agree that the preferred position is that the state get out of marriage altogether, but without that happening, the benefits should extend to everyone. This isn’t a place where we try to look politically correct to whomever we’re speaking to at the moment.

  4. Marc Montoni

    Jill, the problem, as I see it, is that we *are* trying to look politically correct when we say we’re in favor of gay marriage.

    Libertarians don’t *care* if you’re married or not; or to whom. We want the state to treat all individuals as individuals with equal rights and no special privileges.

  5. Steve M

    Gay marriage isn’t about gay marriage it is about gay couple have to file taxes as individuals rather as a couple. It is about, rights to visit your sick partner in a hospital and having a say in how they should be treated. It is about having the same access to health insurance through employers as a straight couple has.

    Remove these preferential treatments from the law and their will be no need for gay marriage or straight marriage other then to make families and churches happy.

  6. Steve M

    opps I forgot inheritance laws…. when a spouse dies…. subject them to inheritance tax on half the couples property just like a gay couple…

  7. Gene Berkman

    Steve M @ 9 – marriage not only prevents a surviving member of a couple from paying inheritance taxes – property held jointly by a married couple avoids probate on the death of one spouse.

  8. Robert Capozzi

    Consistency is a fine thing, but not the only thing.

    Surely taking any position on same-gender marriage will alienate someone. And more surely taking the fringe position without qualification that the government should get out of marriages entirely will alienate most everyone. (I agree with the fringe position, btw, but I simply recognize that it’s not something most can grok.)

    Whether it’s “consistent” or not, I’d say my view is that ultimately I’d like to see government get out of marriages, which is a spiritual matter. In the meantime, though, I support same-gender couples having the opportunity for same legal rights by law as male/female couples.

    Surely there are those who’d be alienated by my position. That’s OK.

  9. LibertyDave

    Saying that you want to abolish marriage because the state is involved, is like saying you want to abolish education because the state is involved. I support separation of education and state, but I also support education and I believe that anyone who wants to be educated, should be able to get educated. The same with marriage. I believe that anyone who wants to get married should be able to get married to who ever they want regardless of what sex they are.

    So when asked I say, “Yes, I support all marriage, gay and straight, and I want the government to stay out of it.”

  10. Steve M

    LD

    this isn’t about abolishing marriage this is about separating it from the state and stopping the state from granting special privileges to one class of couples.

    There are other examples of couples, besides gay or straight, that jointly buy property and live together most of their lives only to have one die and the other be hit with taxes forcing them to sell the property….

    I am talking about sisters….. really the whole idea of giving special privileges to one “couple” but denying other types of couples is unjust.

  11. DSZ

    ^^Here here, a great response.

    @Gene Berkman: “Strategically speaking, yes, Libertarians will lose some potential support by backing non-discriminatory marriage. But we will lose even more support by advocating the abolition of marriage altogether.”

    I disagree because if one truly supports non-discriminatory government marriage rather than getting government completely out of marriage, then it means supporting the right to government-approved plural marriage, which turns a lot of people off. This is one of the major problems I have with people who support gay (government-endorsed) marriage; most of them would not grant the same rights to polygamists. It’s implying “these relationships are just as good as straight folks'” and more legitimate than other forms of marriage, it’s implicitly denying others’ rights by stopping short of all-inclusive marriage. Now I know there are relatively few polygamist families chomping at the bit for a marriage license compared to gay couples, but as someone who studies indigenous cultures for part of my job, I think it’s conceited, Eurocentric, and somewhat imperialistic to assert that only binary couples are healthy and happy. The ignorant knee-jerk reaction often conjures some image of a Turkish harem, or a compound in Utah with prairie dresses and no television, and it’s assumed abuse and neglect are innate features, as if those don’t already happen enough in US monogamous marriages. It’s laughable when conservatives talk of “traditional” marriage values, when many of the patriarchs in the Old Testament practiced polygyny. It’s probably the oldest family structure in our species.

    Now whether plural marriage is morally right or wrong it is not my place to judge, but it shouldn’t be the government’s either. The compromise step short of getting rid of marriage licenses is not to simply offer same sex licenses, but to have government switch marriage licenses to some sort of civil union recognition any domestic partners can obtain (whether amorous, or simply roommates trying to save money etc.) It’s not as good as getting rid of the financial incentives to marry, but at least it lets anyone obtain them in a non-discriminatory fashion. Sexual behavior should not determine one’s tax return.

    Cheers to Marc for writing this, I hope Rob Sarvis reads this!

  12. Jill Pyeatt

    Distasteful as I may think they are, I don’t have a problem with polygamous marriages if all parties enter willingly. The problem with FLDS (Fundamental Latter Day Saints) is that many of the “wives” become so at a young age, like 13 or 14. What is a fair age of consent? That’s something people can talk about forever. Another problem I have is that often the Priesthood Head (husband) can’t afford the quantity of children he fathers with his many wives, and they often go on food stamps. Obviously I have issues with that.

  13. LibertyDave

    When someone asks if you support gay marriage they are also asking if you support the government prohibiting gay marriage. That’s what the gay marriage debate is about.

    To say that it is OK to prohibit gay marriage just because they discriminate against other couples just make you look like your making an excuse to rationalize prejudice.

    Allowing gay marriage wont fix all the problems with the governments interference in marriage, but it is a step for less government control.

    Allowing the government to ban gay marriage is a step for more government control.

    Which do you want?

  14. Lynn House

    I support gay marriage because that’s the question being asked on ballots and in legislatures. I’d rather support separation of the state from marriage, but no one in the real world has raised that question.

  15. George Phillies

    People who oppose to allowing GLBT people to marry each other are mostly not available to us as supporters, and for the most part would bring huge amounts of other baggage with them.

    Giving those groups an out on gay marriage, abortion rights, and a few similar issues — mostly the same people on all issues — will cost us the future. Ship them to the Republicans and the Constitution Party, where they may weigh down their lifeboat with a few extra anvils.

  16. George Phillies

    On a different note, “political correctness” when used positively is mostly a synonym for “civility”. Specifically not referring to Mr Montoni’s use of the phrase, when you hear someone complaining ‘ I think I hear political correctness’ what you are smelling is the stench of Republican bigotry sounding its mating call.

  17. Marc Montoni

    George your last comment was unclear. What exactly are you saying?

    I know of no “positive” connotation for “politically correct”. The phrase has a specific meaning: “Don’t say anything that doesn’t comply with the beliefs of the majority.” Political correctness was a phrase used commonly by communists to describe adherence to the Party line.

    Libertarians don’t care about peaceful, voluntary human behavior. Our only concern is that the government treat all individuals as individuals who are equal under the law. I’m not sure what is difficult to understand about that.

    From your other comment:

    People who oppose to allowing GLBT people to marry each other are mostly not available to us as supporters, and for the most part would bring huge amounts of other baggage with them.

    Hell, the same could be said about people from the left (remember I came to the LP from the left, and the hard left, to boot). Let’s say that same sentence but with the pet causes of the left in there:

    People who favor forcing black people to associate with white people (or vice-versa) when they might prefer not to, are mostly not available to us as supporters, and for the most part would bring huge amounts of other baggage with them.

    … or:

    People who favor stealing guns from gun owners are mostly not available to us as supporters, and for the most part would bring huge amounts of other baggage with them.

    Each of those statements sound about as dumb as the others, and all of them are wrong. The truth is that people come to libertarianism from all walks of life and all sorts of other philosophies, and to make a blanket statement like that only reveals how little you know about recruiting. I came from the left. My parents brought me up that way, and like most people I would have adopted the politics of my parents had I not started reading on my own and poking holes in my own long-held beliefs.

    One thing you cannot do, however, is bring someone to a full understanding of how only freedom will bring them the reform they really want, by giving them an inconsistent picture of what the libertarian philosophy calls for.

    Now as to your other statement:

    Giving those groups an out on gay marriage, abortion rights, and a few similar issues ­ mostly the same people on all issues ­ will cost us the future. Ship them to the Republicans and the Constitution Party, where they may weigh down their lifeboat with a few extra anvils.

    Gee, George, you’re so willing to give any excuse you can find to ignore various groups.

    Using your logic, one could also say that those who are focused on gay marriage are generally also those who want to force people to give up their guns. No matter what ends a person seeks, freedom is the only thing that will get them what they want — but we have to be consistent in our arguments no matter who we are talking to.

    Support for abortion rights is not a libertarian litmus test. *Everyone* wants there to be fewer abortions. And once again, we have only to show that freedom is the only thing that will accomplish that goal.

  18. robert capozzi

    LH puts it well. The issue of same-gender marriage is on the table. Separating marriage and state is not.

    IF Ls want to be relevant (a BIG IF), then we should be willing to engage at a point of relevancy. Changing the subject leads nowhere that I can see, except, perhaps, irrelevancy.

  19. Jill Pyeatt

    MM @ 23: “Libertarians don’t care about peaceful, voluntary human behavior”

    Is that what you meant to say? Even in the context of the paragraph this is in, I cannot agree with this at all. I consider “peaceful, voluntary human behavior” to be my goal.

  20. Steve Scheetz

    Marc M, the original article and post #7…. In two words:

    RIGHT ON!

    Everyone should be treated equally as an individual, PERIOD.

    Government likes to give away free stuff, sit back and watch the carnage when fiscally responsible people start saying things like “The government has no right…”

    Some people like to defend their “free stuff”, while others want their own batch of “free stuff…”

    Personally, I want freeDOM. I NEED the government to leave me alone and let me handle my life MY way, and I will let all others live their lives THEIR way…

    We have an uphill battle, but it can and will be won with the appropriate philosophical shift in society….

  21. Erik Viker

    There should be no legal marriage because there’s no prevailing reason for government to be involved in relationships. But as long as government doles out tax-funded benefits or services, it has no reason to privilege one sort of genitalia pairing over another, and that’s all a ban on same-sex marriage does- – nobody from the government verifies emotional connection or romance. Banning same-sex marriage is simply sexual discrimination. We do not even have to consider “sexual orientation” because the government’s violation is in offering services based solely on the sex of the applicants. Who those people find attractive is irrelevant; there’s no “who gets you hot?” question on a marriage license application.

  22. LibertyDave

    Marc

    You’re the one being inconsistent in your message.

    You make is sound like the only benefits from marriage come from state interference in marriage. There are other benefits from marriage beside the state sponsored ones. Just because the state interferes in marriage doesn’t mean that marriage is bad.

    As I said earlier, when you say you don’t favor gay marriage, or any marriage because of state interference. You sound as inconsistent as saying you don’t favor black people being educated, or anyone being educated because of state interference.
    When you make the following statements, “So is the Libertarian Party in favor of gay marriage? No, we’re not. For that matter, we’re not ‘in favor’ of straight marriage, either.” and “Libertarians don’t care about peaceful, voluntary human behavior.” You sound lot like the local KKK leader saying “I’m not prejudice, I hate everyone equally.”

    When someone asks you if you favor gay marriage, they are also asking if you favor the government banning gay marriage. It’s a Yes-No question. When you answer Yes, you are saying that you want the government to stay out of marriage. When you answer No, you are saying that you want the government to interfere even more in marriage.

    The only consistent libertarian answer to the question “Are you in favor of gay marriage?” is “Yes, I favor marriage for those who choose to get married, gay or straight. And I want the government to stay out if it.”

  23. Marc Montoni

    MM @ 23: “Libertarians don’t care about peaceful, voluntary human behavior”

    Is that what you meant to say? Even in the context of the paragraph this is in, I cannot agree with this at all. I consider “peaceful, voluntary human behavior” to be my goal.

    Oh come on, Jill. I said what I meant and you understood it perfectly well. Libertarians don’t address whether people should be married or not. We don’t say whether we approve of people being married because it’s their own business! It’s a private, consensual matter.

    What we do care about is government interference. On any issue at any time. We don’t care what that behavior *is*, we just care about how **governments** treat it.

    Libertarianism doesn’t issue any value judgements on lifestyle — we don’t care if people are single, in a relationship, married, polygamist or polyandrist, employed, unemployed, handsome, ugly, male or female, rich, poor, bigoted, open-minded, or into playing cards without a full deck. We don’t *care* about those things because libertarianism is a POLITICAL philosophy that is concerned with how governments interact with all of those things. To a Libertarian, you can be **any** of those things, and that libertarian would not have an opinion that had anything to do with his POLITICAL philosophy.

    Nothing more.

    If you don’t understand that Libertarians cannot make value judgements about lifestyles or private choices based on their libertarianism, then you’ve been missing a lot of what the movement is really all about.

    Certainly, a libertarian person can make judgements about others — but their libertarian *political* philosophy has NOTHING to do with that opinion. Those opinions would be based on something else — prejudice, the way one was brought up, religion, etc.

  24. George Phillies

    The modern political correctness theme was that persons of color, persons of the original Faith of Abraham, various immigrants, etc. should not be referred to by the various hate-filled slurs that had long polluted American conversational speech. under modern conditions ‘that sounds like political correctness’ comes from the hate wing of American politics.

  25. George Phillies

    We are individuals. However, the idea that people’s beliefs are assembled by random number generator, so that people do not partake in communities of thought, is not reality based.

    The Pew organization does excellent systematic studies on this, finding that Americans, almost all of us, fall into one of ten or eleven communities of thought, with the spaces in between being largely empty.

  26. Nicholas Sarwark

    Government is currently the arbiter of civil marriage and allows some people to enter into civil marriage and obtain the benefits (and costs) attendant to being married.

    While government is still involved in people’s lives, the correct Libertarian position is to support equal protection under the law for all people.

    A desire for less government involvement in our lives can be added on at the end, but not giving a straight answer to the gay marriage question in favor of getting government out of marriage entirely is analogous to taking the position that we can’t have immigration freedom until we secure the border and deport those here without permission. It is a thinly disguised support for the discriminatory status quo.

  27. Marc Montoni

    I don’t agree, Nick.

    We can’t eliminate welfare by expanding it to cover more people.

    We can’t eliminate taxes by making more people subject to them.

    We can’t eliminate the standing army by accepting women and older recruits.

    And we can’t eliminate government police by increasing their duties and authority.

    Calling for more state meddling is calling for state meddling.

    That is not compatible with libertarianism.

  28. Nicholas Sarwark

    Allowing people to seek to have government sanction for their marriage is not calling for more state meddling. It’s giving everyone the same freedom of choice, rather than arbitrarily prohibiting some people from having their relationship recognized by the state.

    The fact that you (and I) would rather not have the state in the relationship recognition business is irrelevant to the desire of our fellow citizens to be treated equally under the law.

    Do you think the proper Libertarian position on rescinding Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and allowing gays to serve openly in the military is to duck the question and talk about how we shouldn’t have a standing army? It’s not. While I’m not planning to join the armed forces any time soon, denying some of my fellow Americans the right to join based on who they prefer to sleep with is wrong.

    I lose no sleep over the loss of bigots as potential members of the Libertarian Party or the broader libertarian movement. Philosophically, I respect their freedom to be bigots, but I’d prefer they do it as part of another group.

  29. Thomas L. Knapp

    @33,

    —–
    We can’t eliminate welfare by expanding it to cover more people.

    We can’t eliminate taxes by making more people subject to them.
    —–

    Actually, that may be the only way to eliminate either of those things.

  30. Robert Capozzi

    33 MM: We can’t eliminate taxes by making more people subject to them.

    me: With Counselor Sarwack’s “equal protection” counter. I can’t say there’s a “proper” L position, for usually there are several reasonable ones.

    While “eliminating” taxes has appeal, unless you can put together a plausible plan, abolition of taxes sounds awfully risky, far riskier than separating marriage and state.

    Does anyone disagree?

    The equilibration MIGHT work with a narrow (unworkable) application of the NAP, it doesn’t strike me (and likely most) as anywhere near the realm of possible outcomes. Why, then, chew up bandwidth playing such theoretical games?

  31. Robert Capozzi

    NF, good question. I do believe that virtually everyone pays at least sales taxes, at least in places that have sales taxes.

    The Amish pay all taxes:

    http://www2.etown.edu/amishstudies/FAQ.asp

    I believe there are few states that don’t charge sales taxes…DE comes to mind. If a person lives in DE and has low income and doesn’t buy stuff in MD or PA, they may not pay ANY taxes. There may be a few other rare cases of tax-free living. Those who live off the grid and barter or raise food might also qualify on MM’s construct.

    I’d swag it that 99+% pay some taxes annually, but I could be incorrect…it might be 98.5%!

  32. Matt Cholko

    As far as I know, every state has a tax on gas, cigarettes, alcohol, and tires. So, one would have to avoid buying those products as well. And, of course, there are many other products taxed in this way.

  33. Marc Montoni

    NF, you might be surprised. Those of us who have a friend or two in that community might suggest that is not nearly so universal as one might think.

  34. Gene Berkman

    I agree with Nick @ 32 & 34. Civil marriage is a contract that is enforceable in government courts. Few people are willing to completely rely on privately managed and enforced contracts, and there is currently no non-governmental agency with sufficiently widespread acceptance to replace local governments in implementing civil marriage.

    Eliminating civil marriage makes it harder for non-religious to partake of the benefits.

    And arguing for a utopian end to government marriage at a time when the feds are preparing still another military intervention in the middle east, when California cities are closing marijuana dispensaries, and when same sex couples cannot have visitation rights in hospitals because their “marriage” is not recognized, seems like misplaced radicalism.

  35. LibertyDave

    This post shows one of the most common errors libertarians make when trying to communicate our ideas. The error is, when asked one question; you give the answer to a question you wished they asked, not the one they did ask.

    In the first example the question that was asked was “What his position was on gay marriage?” The question could be reworded to “Should the government continue to discriminate against gay people?”

    In the second example the local activist resigned because he perceived that the new group was in favor of recognition of gay marriage. This could be reworded to say that the local activist resigned because the new group would no longer discriminate against gay people.

    Then in you post you ask the question “So is the Libertarian Party in favor of gay marriage?” Because you put the word gay in front of marriage it makes the question “So is the Libertarian Party in favor of stopping the government from discriminating against gay people?”

    The question you wished was asked was “So is the Libertarian Party in favor of the government interfering in marriage?”

    This is not the question that is being asked! You proceed to answer the question you wished was asked. By the way, it is a good answer to the wrong question.

    If you want to be a consistent libertarian communicator, you need to answer the question that is being asked. “Is the Libertarian Party in favor of discriminating against gay people?”

    As far as I know the consistent Libertarian position is that the Libertarian Party has never been if favor of discrimination of any kind.

    If you can’t bring yourself to say, “Yes I favor gay marriage.” Then how about rewording the answer to something like this, “I may not approve of who you wish to marry, but I will defend you right to get married.”

    Come on people. The gay marriage debate is about discrimination against gays, it is not about the government favoring married people over single people.

  36. Gene Berkman

    LibertyDave @ 46 makes a very important point about communication.

    His restatement is good also: “I may not approve of who you wish to marry, but I will defend you right to get married.”

    Apparently what Mr Montoni wants to say is “I may approve of who you wish to marry – I just don’t approve of marriage.” That restatement is less convincing to most people, and scary to many.

  37. Robert Capozzi

    47 gb: Apparently what Mr Montoni wants to say is “I may approve of who you wish to marry – I just don’t approve of marriage.”

    me: While I disagree with MM’s essay on balance, this seems unfair. As I understand his point,he wants to get government out of marriage, not that he wants to abolish marriage.

    I suggest fairness in all interchanges….

  38. Thomas L. Knapp

    While marriage has evolved over time with varying religious aspects and such, from a political standpoint all “civil marriage” really is is a standardized contract that establishes a pre-fabricated (although the particulars vary from state to state) set of legal relationships.

    Instead of having to hire lawyers to draw up a bunch of custom powers of attorney, agreements with respect to community property for an ongoing partnership, terms for possible future dissolution of that partnership and so forth, people who get “married” save a lot of money and time by accepting a standardized set of such agreements (some of which may be consensually modified with those custom contracts, e.g. pre-nuptial agreements).

    Applying for, completing and returning a “marriage license” is really no different in principle than filling out the standard forms to apply for a corporate charter, create an LLC, etc. All you’re doing is signing off on a standardized bundle of contracts and asking the state to enforce those contracts, enforcing contracts being one of the things states do through their court system.

    If someone suggested that the state should deny corporate charters, LLC papers and so forth to groups of more than two people, couples not of different gender, etc., the person so suggesting would be considered batshit insane.

    As should those suggesting that the state should be allowed to deny the validity of the “standard contract” for “marriage” based what it sees if it peers inside the trousers or up the skirts of the contracting parties.

  39. Robert Capozzi

    49 tk: If someone suggested that the state should deny corporate charters, LLC papers and so forth …, the person so suggesting would be considered batshit insane.

    me: In the public square, agreed. As an academic exercise, not so much.

    Do you, TK, view MM’s position as “batshit insane”?

  40. Thomas L. Knapp

    RC,

    I don’t see any real daylight between Marc’s position and my own. He, too, separates the religious aspects of “marriage” from the contractual aspects. He just does so using a different rhetorical approach.

    If there is a difference, it’s that Marc seems to think that we can have the state, but not have the state do the things states do, while I acknowledge that as long as we have the state, it will do the things states do, and the best we can hope for is to force some small degree of even-handedness and non-discrimination into how it does those things.

    Being an anarchist, of course, I prefer to abolish the state. But my assumption is that absent the state there would still arise standard/boilerplate contracts resembling today’s “licensed marriages,” because the contractual relationships are of a type that seem natural and would likely continue to be desired by many. They’d just have different arbitration/enforcement mechanisms.

  41. Marc Montoni

    Tom, I want the state abolished also. However, I am willing to accept abolishing the state piecemeal, as soon as it can be arranged. Abolishing all functions of the state interfering in marriage, while it doesn’t rid one of the state in toto, it’s still deleting a whole bunch of state and sending a bunch of bureaucrats packing.

  42. Marc Montoni

    GB: “Apparently what Mr Montoni wants to say is “I may approve of who you wish to marry – I just don’t approve of marriage.” That restatement is less convincing to most people, and scary to many.”

    Please don’t put words in my mouth.

    I have not mentioned my *personal* position on marriage. I have one, but what regard or lack of regard I may have for marriage or singlehood is irrelevant to any libertarian position on marriage.

    I separate what *I* may think of marriage from what *libertarianism* has to say about marriage, which is:

    Libertarianism takes no position on marriage, other than we want the government out of it. Marriage licensure is not a legitimate function of government and should be abolished. The government should neither subsidize nor tax (or encouraging/discouraging), it.

  43. Thomas L. Knapp

    Marc,

    You can’t abolish all functions of the state interfering with marriage unless you abolish the state.

    Sure, we could eliminate formal “licensure” and just drum up a package of contracts to accomplish the same objective as a “marriage license,” but so long as the state exists it will continue to be the default mechanism for adjudication for contractual disputes, and what contracts it considers valid, how it adjudicates the disputes, etc., will remain political decisions.

    My first preference is to abolish the state, and that’s what I mostly focus on.

    My second preference, so long as the state remains unsmashed, would be to eliminate “licensure” in favor of contract. I think that may be in the offing, less in terms of a policy fight than people just deciding to start doing things that way and lawyers fulfilling demand. I wouldn’t be surprised if 10 years from now LegalZoom and so forth will ship you a stack of standardized contracts that create the set of relationships involved, and you sign them, get them notarized, then go see a priest if that’s what you’re into — no government involved except the notary public, unless an adjudication is triggered at some point.

    My third preference, and the one that seems easiest to get implemented in the near term (it has been partially implemented in several states and nations now), is to forbid the state to discriminate on the basis of gender (and in the future, number) in “licensing” the institution.

  44. Reality Watch

    1. Americans have a right to a republican government. Family law is very complicated and must be written by the people’s representatives in (primarily state) legislatures, not judges seeking to impose a one-size-fits-all centrally-planned policy.

    2. Libertarian legislators should err on the side of allowing a diversity of family contracts, however…

    3. Our liberty derives from our natural rights, and a child has a natural right to be raised by his blood relatives and to have one father and one mother. Family law should be written with a healthy respect for these natural rights of children.

  45. Thomas L. Knapp

    “In my imagination, a child has a natural right to be raised by his blood relatives and to have one father and one mother.”

    There, fixed that for ya.

  46. Reality Watch

    Only a statist would advocate the kidnapping of a child from his natural blood relatives.

  47. Robert Capozzi

    53 MM: Libertarianism takes no position on marriage, other than we want the government out of it. Marriage licensure is not a legitimate function of government and should be abolished.

    me: There is no such thing as “Libertarianism.” It doesn’t exist. Show me one if I’m mistaken.

    L-ism is, however, a school of thought that some espouse, although the ideas may differ at times. One idea that virtually all Ls agree on is that people should be able to pursue happiness if that pursuit doesn’t hurt others.

    Some (same and different gender) couples believe that marriage – with its legal accommodations – allows them to pursue happiness more effectively.

    Most Ls also recognize that a rule of law facilitates the pursuit of happiness by establishing relative domestic tranquility. And many, possibly most, Ls believe that equal protection under that law supports domestic tranquility.

    Therefore this (“Libertarianism takes no position on marriage, other than we want the government out of it.”) is false on many grounds.

  48. George Phillies

    “…one father and one mother…” So if parent A donates the male DNA, parent B donates the female DNA, person C donates the mitochondrial DNA — wonderful what nanotechnology can soon do — and female D carries the child through to birth, ummh, how many parents is that? And they are all somewhat natural.

  49. Thomas L. Knapp

    RW @ 57,

    I agree.

    But that’s not what you said before.

    What you said is that a child has a “natural right” to be raised by his blood relatives and to have one mother and one father.

    And that claim is ridiculous.

  50. Jed Siple

    Supporting gay marriage is supporting taking the state out of marriage. The state cannot tell two people that they can’t get married. The state can’t tax the inheritances to their partners.

    I support gay marriage, I don’t see a substantial difference with ending state involvement outside of a few legal documents, and if saying so means we lose a few votes because we take a stand against government discrimination, so be it. We’ll lose far more, especially among the younger voters, by taking a stance seen as bigoted & outdated.

  51. LibertyDave

    Marc Montoni,
    @53 you claim that you have not mentioned your *personal* position on marriage.

    But your post implies your position on gay marriage. You imply that you are in favor of discriminating against gay people.

    When you ask the question, so is the Libertarian Party in favor of gay marriage. Then you answer with, no, were not.

    This is your position; it is not the Libertarian Party position, as you so clearly state with your concern that the Libertarian Party is making a “tactical error” at the beginning of your post by saying we are in favor of gay marriage.

    You then try to justify your prejudicial position by claiming that the Libertarian Party is against all marriage because the government interferes in marriage.

    This is not what the platform position on Personal Relationships states.

    “1.3 Personal Relationships – Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.”

    When you say that you don’t favor gay marriage, you are saying that the government should be able to choose who can get married and who can’t. This is against the platform position; see the last sentence in the statement.

    I you didn’t intent to come across as a prejudice against gay people then you need to change your answer to the one in the platform, Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Which translates to: Yes, we favor gay marriage.

    Otherwise you are just showing the world that you are just another bigot trying to rationalize his prejudice with libertarian philosophy, and failing miserably.

  52. Reality Watch

    @60, I suppose you’d grow them in a vat and auction them off to the highest bidder? Lovely.

  53. Reality Watch

    @59 – I’d say have the law recognize one of the three mothers as the mother. The other mothers, if interested, could possibly be recognized as “godmother” and receive first dibs for consideration if the child turns orphan later on.

    That’s the general structure I’d go for, regardless if all four or just some sub (or null) set are all married to each other. What’s your idea?

    Does any state LP have suggested legislative language for a bill recognizing polyamorous unions?

  54. Marc Montoni

    LibertyDave, you have just demonstrated the very lack of understanding within the LP to which I was referring.

    Frankly, you come off as a quick-to-judge, quick-to-ad-hominem bigot, yourself.

    Perhaps you could discuss the idea rather than impugning someone you don’t even know?

    Later in your screed, you cite the platform, which says exactly what I am suggesting libertarians should say in general — that the state should not be licensing any marriages.

    I have no problem with those who believe in “traditional” marriage, nor do I have any problem with those who want non-traditional marriage — as long as both understand that the **only** way to get them both what they want is by repealing licensure and all other forms of government marriage regulation.

    Only freedom works.

    No form of intimate partnership should be regulated by government, whether straight, gay, polygamist, polyandrist, monogamous, polyamorous, or whatever.

  55. LibertyDave

    Marc Montoni,

    It is not my understanding of libertarian principle at issue here; it is your interpretation of the question that was asked. That is the issue here.

    Your answer to the question, “Just What *IS* The Consistent Libertarian Position on Marriage Licensing?” is 100% correct.

    It’s too bad that’s not the question you ask in the title of your post, or the question from the examples you site in your post.

    By putting the word Gay in front of marriage and dropping the word Licensing, you have changed the question to something that your answer doesn’t address, and misleads people into thinking you either don’t understand the question, or you are trying to get people who are prejudiced against gay people to support the libertarian party by implying that the libertarian party supports discriminating against gay people.

    This is the Idea that I have been trying to discuss with you.

    Because the question you ask in the title doesn’t mention licenses, just marriage, this makes the question about marriage itself, not about how the government regulates it.

    Marriage itself is nothing more than a contract between two or more people. Religious or civil, written or oral, it is still just a contract. And by putting the word Gay in front of marriage, it makes the question about the ability of gay people to enter into this type of contract.

    When you ask the question, in the middle of your post, “So is the Libertarian Party in favor of gay marriage?” You are asking if the libertarian party is in favor of allowing gay people to enter into a marriage contract. Your answer of, “No, we’re not,” is a direct contradiction of the sentence from the Libertarian Platform on Personal Relationships, “Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.”

    People who are like the people you site as examples in your post. Those who will drop support for the libertarian party, if they think that the libertarian position is that we are in favor of gay marriage.
    They will also drop support for the libertarian party when they find out that your solution of not licensing any marriage and getting the government out of it will mean that gay people will be able to get married.

    As I’ve said before the “Gay Marriage Debate” is about the government continuing to discriminate against gay people, it is not about the government licensing all marriage.

  56. Matt Schutter

    The job of government is to protect people’s right. Yes, the government should not be involved in a private contract. But since that is not going to happen right away, it is the job of government too promote liberty for all under the rule of law which is the constitution.

    If someone can’t vote for a candidate because that One issue then tell them to vote the Nazi GOP or the bigoted constitution party! Where Libertarians we believe in equality for all, and have respect for the rule of law!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *