Ask a Libertarian

Ask a Libertarian: What Do Libertarians Think About Gay Marriage?


Welcome to Ask a Libertarian 2012 with Reason's Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch. They are the authors of the book, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America, coming out in paperback with a new foreword covering Occupy Wall Street and more, on June 26.

"What do libertarians think about gay marriage?"—Sent by Andrew Ian Dodge 

Produced by Meredith Bragg, Jim Epstein, Josh Swain, and Tracy Oppenheimer with help from Katie Hooks.

To watch answers from 2011's Ask a Libertarian series, go here.

NEXT: Ask Libertarian: What About Roads?

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  1. It’s the #1 libertarian issue!

  2. I don’t like the casual dismissal of the notion of ending government recognition of any marriage. Why is this one libertarian windmill not worth tilting at?

    And that about Bill O’Reilly marrying his duck or whatever? That must be addressed.

    1. Because you only ever talk about it in the context of gay marriage. And imagine a similar opinion with respect to tax policy and see if you like it. On that issue you’re more than willing to take whatever incremental changes (in the form of cuts) you can get regardless of how far off the utopian ideal we are.

      1. So would libertarians like to see the government not tax at all?

        Yes. Idiot.

        1. No they wouldn’t. Not if they thought about it for more than 5 seconds. Regardless, you’re willing to accept, and cheerfully endorse, any non-utopian change to the tax code as long as it’s in the right direction. So why this stick up your ass about gay marriage equality?

        2. Bullshit, Tony. I, for instance, talk about it in the context of ALL marriage, and so does pretty much anyone else here.

          Also, it’s funny how you bring the word “utopian” in to this.

          1. Also, it’s funny how you bring the phrase “stick up your ass” in to this.

          2. Fine, let’s pretend you gave a shit about the tyranny of legal marriage rights before people started talking about extending them to gays.

            It still doesn’t make any sense. Contracts are legal documents. All anyone is talking about is equality of contracting rights.

            1. Let’s pretend you give a shit about anything but gay marriage and global warming.


              If every couple had the same legal protections as it takes NOW via the state-issued “marriage license” permission slip… ahh, fuck it. You’ve never listened before, so fuck off.

      2. Wasn’t there an article on this very site today about ending government recognition of hairdressers? There are plenty of areas that libertarians talk about getting government out of. You are just making shit up, again.

  3. Damn it, I really wanted you guys to say that as long as you recognize couples you need to recognize triads, etc. too.

  4. Since there aren’t any female libertarians, we are all for it.

  5. Marriage is church business, not government business.

    Now, if the government wants to create some sort of officially recognized and defined domestic partnership, I can live with that, as long as the only limit on it is that only competent adults can enter into the partnership, and the law deals only with the partnership itself (that is, the rights of the partners as against each other). Being in such a partnership should not give any rights, or impose any burdens or duties, as against anyone not in the partnership.

    1. Why can’t it be the business of individuals? My fiancee and I would be getting married and not domestic partnered or civil unioned no matter what the state/churches had to say about it.

      1. It can. As today, anyone can go to church and get married according to that church, if the church is willing to go along.

        The state partnership would be there for people who wanted to take advantage of it. Kind of like how states define all kinds of associations now (general partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability companies, corporations, etc.) for people who want to use them.

        1. I guess I would just prefer a system where people can write their own marriage contracts (and call them “marriage” or whatever they want) and the courts would enforce those contracts no who the parties are. People say they would rather have the government out of marriage than expand it to gays but if the courts only enforce straight religious marriages then it isn’t any better. There would still need to be a law or court decision that says the courts can’t discriminate and must enforce the intent of the parties.

    2. “Marriage is church business” Synagogs and mosques can go fuck themselves. Also, you, unlike the same-sex couples who only to expand marriage to include their unions, are actually willing to downgrade heterosexual marriage to “domestic partnerships”. Someone is trying to ruin straight marriage, but it’s not who you think.

      1. Are you saying marriages can’t exist without the state? Getting the government out of marriage doesn’t ruin it for anybody.

        1. It probably would be best if marriage, as such, were not a state affair. At the same time, I’m not one to let the perfect become the enemy of the good, and since for the foreseeable future the government will continue to hand out marriage licenses, it should be equal.

          1. If EVERY couple had domestic-partnership benefits, there would be no “separate but equal” argument.

            You, and Tony, need to get on the right track, and push for those benefits… and tell the local magistrate to fuck off, you’re not paying money for a marriage license.

            1. I will concede that it must be damn humiliating to have to beg the leviathan to recolonize what is plainly obvious to anyone with a functioning cerebral cortex.

              1. Okay, I may have misread you, but I stand by my remarks to Tony.

            2. Also, I disagree with Dummy more often then not.

              1. Sorry, Audrey… used to fucktards like shrike pretending to be classical-liberal.

      2. “Marriage is church business” Synagogs and mosques can go fuck themselves.

        Check your dictionary, Audrey.

        And I’m surprised to hear that a liberal favors mixing religion and state by having the state in the marriage business.

        1. Relax Royal Crown, I’m just bustin’ your chops.

        2. She’s a state-worshipper, RC. If you got your way, she’d no longer be married in the eyes of her god.

          1. “She’s a state-worshipper, RC. If you got your way, she’d no longer be married in the eyes of her god.” Why do you think that?

            1. Firstly, because liberal usually means “progressive”, not “classical liberal”. So, I made an ass out of just me, mea culpa.

              But also because it sounded like you were suggesting that reducing heterosexual marriages to mere contracts in the eyes of the state was “ruining” them. If it was sarcasm, it didn’t set my meter off.

              1. I’m just making that argument to ruffle the feathers of SoCons, who just love to yammer on about “the sanctity of marriage” like it wasn’t fifty-present of hetero-marriages that ended in divorce. That said, while it might be best if all unions were reclassified as domestic partnerships, since I don’t think that’s likely to happen in the near future, and since same-sex couples should be treated equally under the law, I feel allowing same-sex marriage is the best option.

      3. How, exactly, is it “downgrading” if we want ALL marriages to be, essentially, domestic partnerships?

        1. “[W]e want ALL marriages to be, essentially, domestic partnerships?” This should be taking place roughly the fifth of never.

          1. Yeah, but if gays got over the Holy Grail of The Sacred Marriage Permission Slip, they’d have *the same legal protections* married people have.

            Which is a much better quest than the one they’re on now.

    3. Marriage is not, in fact, just church business, nor has it ever been completely separate from government business. And it’s unclear how it can be considering there are contracts involved.

      Nick and Matt explain it pretty well. One would think you’d just agree with their position and get on with your life.

      1. No moron, marriage is far older than the form of government you think of and existed in virtually all societies and cultures, where things like contracts did not exist. Its not a government function, stupid rewriting history as a long function of government actions.

      2. No moron, marriage is far older than the form of government you think of and existed in virtually all societies and cultures, where things like contracts did not exist. Its not a government function, stop rewriting history and human behaviour as a long function of government actions.

        1. “Marriage is not, in fact, just church business… but it SHOULD be.

          FIFY’d. No charge.

          Like you’d pay for it, though.

  6. I have performed quite a few marriages. Some of them would be recognized by the state, most would not (gay, poly, open, year and a days,etc) . However all the people involved consider themselves married.

    1. Good for you, PP. I applaud what you do.

      But to the Tonys and Audreys out there, that’s just not good enough.

      1. Hey Mister, I happen to be using the word liberal in the classical (i.e. libertarian) sense. Also, as I said, I just don’t want to make the perfect the enemy of the good.

        1. Hey, Toots, it’s kinda hard to tell how you’re using the word.

          1. It’s not my fault that modern progressives happen to be using that word wrong.

    2. I think what you are doing is swell.

      1. If Tony asked her nice, I’d bet PaganPriestess would perform a ceremony for him and Palin’s Buttplug.

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