Discussions on Libertarians, Tolerance, and GAY GAY GAY



Over in The American Spectator, W. James Antle, III (an occasional Reason contributor) gives a thumbs-sideways review of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America. The end of his review is interesting:

Breezily written and mostly correct, this book's biggest flaw is its failure to recognize that "lifestyle libertarianism" does not necessarily lead to the political variety. Consider gay marriage. Certainly, on one level it involves people peacefully pursuing happiness as they define it. But marriage by necessity also limits one's pursuit of happiness, peaceful or otherwise.

If the police were breaking up gay weddings and throwing both grooms in jail, like a Stonewall riot at the Metropolitan Community Church, libertarians would obviously be correct to fight this injustice. But giving gay couples licenses and benefits from the state, forcing them to hire lawyers when they no longer wish to live together, and using antidiscrimination laws to tell Catholic Charities where they must place children for adoption at the very least raises different questions than letting someone paint their house purple.

Not that there's anything wrong with that!

Or to return to Gillespie's earlier example, which society would be more libertarian: one where the prudish innkeeper is free to ban unmarried couples from his hotel rooms or one where such insidious discrimination is illegal? When freedom and tolerance conflict, which is more important?

The question itself helps explain why many people who broadly share Welch and Gillespie's politics don't share their optimism that freedom is on the march. (Where have we heard that phrase before?) Despite positive social trends, government is growing. Unmarried couple or not, you can check out anytime you'd like but you can never leave.

As in so much of the gay marriage debate, I don't see how a single one of Antle's arguments here couldn't be used against interracial marriage as well.


For a more direct spasm of revulsion at letting lesbians marry, I recommend this blog post by Glenn T. Stanton over at National Review's The Corner:

My daughter and I were in Manhattan over this weekend so I could do some research at the Met. Waves of people were coming into the city for Sunday's big gay-pride march, where they could celebrate the Empire State's new same-sex-marriage law. We sat behind some of them on the train, three young women with a precious, excited toddler girl in tow. The very evident leader of the clan was the patriarch. Adorned as if she might be an actor portraying a hip-hop teen from Cleveland, she had her meticulous corn-rows tucked under a backwards navy-blue flat-billed ballcap, a matching wife beater revealing a mural of tats on her arms, shoulders, and back. Baggy jeans rode low, leading to her construction boots with untied laces dangling free.

She was the only one of the adult threesome that interacted with the child, mindlessly uttering reassuring words like "Daddy will be right back" or "Sit over here by Daddy." […]

Gender does matter

And while this adorable little girl on the train got to call one of her parents "Daddy," did she really have a daddy? Well, her DNA would prove that she does somewhere, but in reality she only has a woman playing make-believe daddy, and like make-believe games, it's all about the world this woman has created in her mind for her own imaginary fun and games. One problem: There's a little toddler as one of the props.

Gender does matter for marriage, the family, and society, and those trying to teach us that it doesn't can't help but default to the very thing they are trying to overthrow.

This is the primary fallacy of the legislation New York just passed — not in theory, but in the reality of this little girl and her "daddy" on the train at Penn Station.

Of course, "the reality of this little girl and her 'daddy'" came into being long before gay marriage was officially recognized by the state; that horse left the barn when technology enabled individuals to design their own reproduction, and when New York began allowing openly gay couples to adopt (let us never forget that many of today's anti-gay marriage activists–including Glenn T. Stanton–were yesterday's insistents that it was better for kids to be orphaned than raised by homosexuals).

Reason on gay adoption here.

Speaking of tolerance and libertarianism (and interracial marriage, and The Declaration of Independents), there's a bunch of follow-ups to the David Gordon/Matt Welch exchange over at EconLog, from (in order) Bryan Caplan, David Henderson, Bryan Caplan, and David Henderson.

UPDATE FROM ANTLE: "Matt Welch Misses the Point"