Barney Frank Explains How America's Libertarian Nature Is Helping Legalize Gay Marriage, Marijuana


Former Congressman Barney Frank sat down with the folks at the absurdly named Big Think (these are the same folks who gave Bill Nye a platform to assume opponents of Common Core are creationists) about the future of marijuana legalization. Though probably better known to the public for his advocacy on gay rights and financial regulation, he's been a constant fighter to end the war on drugs, long before the current push.

This short segment combines (marries, if you will) analysis of how people's attitudes are changing on marijuana legalization with changes in opinion on recognizing marriages of gay couples. I'm bringing up the video because he makes some interesting libertarian-friendly statements (including actually referencing libertarianism):

Some bullet points of interest:

  • He describes the dilemma of those in favor of the bans as struggling to come up with reasons why it should be a legal or government issue. He notes that America's "basic libertarianism" makes it difficult to convince people to ban something just because you think it's morally wrong. They have to show it has real negative consequences that affect other people. Because prohibitions had been hammered through earlier, though, it was impossible to disprove claims that gay marriage and marijuana use caused actual harms.
  • Thus, the awesomeness of federalism! He doesn't actually use the word, but he talks about how a few places broke through years ago: Massachusetts and Vermont on marriage, and the many states that began legalizing marijuana for medical use. Thus we are able to get the evidence that gay marriage and marijuana don't cause the sorts of social harms that banners insisted on: "None of the negative effects people predicted have occurred. Reality beat the prejudice."
  • Frank explains that when he first began pushing to legalize marijuana, he faced opposition from black political leaders who worried about the impact of drug use on their communities. But their attitudes changed when they saw the "absolutely undeniable discriminatory nature of the law enforcement" of drug laws against minorities.