Members of Outright USA recently held their first convention since announcing their intent to formally disaffiliate from the Libertarian Party.
Outright USA previously operated under the name Outright Libertarians where it was the formal advocacy group for LGBTQ+ individuals in the Libertarian Party. Outright Libertarians was never a formal caucus, but rather a freely accessible entity open to all individuals who supported the organization as a “two-way bridge between the Libertarian Party and those with differing sexual orientations or gender identities.”
In a June 2 statement, the Outright USA Board of Directors announced their name change and the intent to temporarily disaffiliate following the aftermath of the most recent Libertarian National Convention. The statement denounced the decision of LNC delegates to remove the bigotry plank from the party platform, as well as highlighted allegations of physical and verbal abuse aimed at members of Outright Libertarians by LNC attendees.
The convention met over Zoom and was sparsely attended, failing to achieve quorum. Enough board members were in attendance to still have a formal meeting leading to hours of debate about the organization’s future. Members deliberated at length over ways to make the organization more accessible, including the introduction of asynchronous voting for those unable to attend and the adoption of ranked-choice voting as an internal mechanism.
In a video leading up to the convention, outgoing Chair Ari Gabrek announced their decision to not seek reelection. With few other interested members in attendance, a challenge was created to the ability of Outright USA to remain a nonprofit in good standing. In response, Gabrek suggested dissolving Outright USA and allocating the remaining resources to other organizations chosen by the board that would be better able to accomplish the original mission.
Member responses were mixed on the topic of dissolution. “I need a GSM presence”, said Kaelan Dryer, an Outright USA member. Dryer expressed further frustration with caucus infighting in the Libertarian Party but foresaw organizations like the Mises Caucus being susceptible to the same infighting, warranting a need for Outright USA.
“I want to see this organization move forward but understand if dissolution is necessary”, echoed Jonathan Evans, another member of the board.
Tyler Smith, another board member, had stronger thoughts on the matter. “I am tired of the [stagnation]. I’m working on getting somebody housed in Indiana, I am working on other things,” Smith said. “At this rate, it just seems better to dissolve [Outright USA] and put the money toward other organizations better to do the work.”
Smith shared a lot of the frustration felt by members like Dryer, attributing a “lack of motivation” to the current internal climate. “Most of it was the dick-swinging factional war,” Smith continued. “It killed a lot of us.”
As a discussion to dissolve was underway, former Outright members including Ashley Shade and Brianna Coyle made appearances at the convention. Shade, an elected city councilor in Massachusetts and former chair of Outright Libertarians, offered to help Outright USA as an advisor if they did not dissolve. Shade explained to Independent Political Report that she offered to help advise because she views Outright as a vehicle for positive change.
“I believe that Outright can continue to be that home for our community,” Shade explained, “and I truly believe that whether the organization works directly within or from outside the party, Outright can and will be a catalyst and a home for positive change and love.”
Coyle, who recently posted on social media a video of her burning her Libertarian Party membership card, also explained in a follow-up conversation with Independent Political Report why organizations like Outright matter even for people who are no longer in the party like herself.
“The Libertarian Party was the first “mainstream” political party to support legalizing gay & poly marriage as well as getting the government out of marriage altogether,” Coyle explained. “Just like [Republicans] have the Log Cabin Republicans, I expect some organized group to exist within the LP that advocates on behalf of LGBTQ individuals.”
Coyle additionally said that while she hopes to see the Libertarian Party grow into a “more welcoming organization for all marginalized communities”, she does not see herself coming back anytime soon. “I personally don’t see myself coming back to the party, but I would absolutely support any efforts to make LP spaces more inclusive for queer folx”, she explained, “Regardless of the direction in which the Libertarian Party takes, the libertarian movement as a whole will always encompass queer liberation.”
What comes next for Outright USA remains to be seen. With new leadership under Jeni Kadel agreeing to resume the difficult conversation of dissolution at a later date, members will have one more opportunity to decide the future. What is known, however, is that LGBTQ+ libertarians continue to have an organization advocating on their behalf for at least one more month.