Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson Supports Private Anti-Discrimination Laws Protecting Gays


Below, watch 2012 Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson interviewed briefly by Jeff4Justice, a gentleman who lives in his SUV, interviews celebrities and politicians alike, and advocates both about gay issues and for third-party candidate inclusion in elections:

If for whatever reason you are unable to watch, Jeff mentions Johnson's support for gay marriage equality (seemingly unaware this support is not new to libertarians), then pivots to discussion of anti-discrimination laws. Jeff's concern is that gays and lesbians may be resistant to voting for Libertarian Party candidates if they don't support antidiscrimination laws.

Johnson responds that he doesn't believe there should be workplace discrimination against gays, referencing racial segregation and civil rights laws from the 1960s. Jeff specifically asks if there should be laws preventing employers and businesses from discriminating against gay workers or customers. Johnson says the discrimination should be legally prohibited: "There has to be an awareness, and there has to be consequences to discrimination. And there should not be discrimination. This is America."

Unpacking this as a gay libertarian: The first and most obvious observation is that Johnson, like many people who make this comparison, ignores the fact that segregation wasn't entirely voluntary. Much of it was mandated by government. Segregation was law. This is not to downplay that there were certainly many businesses and powerful forces in the private sector that supported, wanted, encouraged, fought to maintain segregation, and instituted it well beyond what the laws demanded. The laws wouldn't have existed if rich and powerful white people didn't want it in the first place. But it's important to note that segregation laws restricted freedom of association by prohibiting it.

The refusal of states to recognize same-sex marriage is again a government-ordered mandate. It has nothing to do with whether individuals or churches or businesses acknowledge the legitimacy of gay marriage. No business serving wedding needs has been forbidden from providing goods and services for gay couples, regardless of whether the state recognizes the marriage. But making private businesses provide these services by government order restricts the right of freedom of association by demanding it.

Many, many private businesses have chosen to serve gay couples. A small number have not. Before calling for more government intervention, the first step for any libertarian should be to examine what other options are available. I hate the concept of ranking victimization, but the level of private discrimination against engaged gay couples absolutely pales to the culture created by racial segregation. Being denied a wedding cake by one shop out of several choices is not the same as being shut out of entire neighborhoods and centers of commerce. There are many private solutions to the issue of gay couples being denied services, and businesses who engage in discrimination get significant negative attention and publicity. In fact, the relatively small number of cases of consumer discrimination shows how much has society changed primarily from cultural evolution. Undoubtedly a gay couple looking for a bakery to make them a wedding cake in the 1990s would have faced many more rejections.

Restrictions on liberty to achieve certain public policy goals frequently result in unintended consequences and need to be carefully thought out, no matter how well-meaning. Most people consider it uncontroversial that we've placed restrictions of freedom of speech so that libelous and slanderous comments are not protected. These are manifestations of speech that have the potential to cause harm to others or deprive them of their rights. Nevertheless, people and businesses regularly attempt to use the law to silence opinions and criticisms that they don't like or make them look bad, falsely claiming libel or slander. People have to pay lawyers to defend themselves and their right to speak out. Every restriction of liberty comes with a trade-off that can prove problematic. We have to have more than the indignity of being rejected by a baker of photographer in order to justify legally forcing these businesses to give up their freedom of association.

For more, read my primer on libertarians, gay marriage, and freedom of association here.

NEXT: Steven Greenhut on Surveillance Sneaking Its Way Into Cities

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Understand Johnson is no longer a Republican trying to finese the issue. He is or claims to be a Libertarian. Isn’t the point of being in the Libertarian Party to be more Catholic than the Pope? If the Libertarian candidate isn’t going to be ideologicly pure, who will? And if they are not going to be and are not going to make the ideological arguments the major parties won’t make, why have a Libertarian party at all?

    It seems to me that the CRA and public accomodation law is one of the most important ideological Libertarian arguments that the major parties won’t make. In short, shouldn’t this get Johnson kicked out of the Libertarian club or at least make him no longer a viable L nominee for President?

    Would a candidate who not only said “there needs to be consiquences for using drugs” but also embraced expanding the drug war into new drugs be a vialble Libertarian Candidate? Well that is what Johnson is doing with the CRA and public accomodation law here. Is that law not not important to Libertarians anymore?

    1. The ranks of Libertarian presidential candidates include Gay Jay and Bob Barr. It’s become a little like the Nobel Peace Prize in that respect…

    2. It’s too bad he was so badly ignored when running as a Republican. He makes a better libertarian-leaning Republican than a Libertarian.

      As for the point of being in the Libertarian party, I have no idea.

      1. A republican who finds himself a little fish in a big, nasty pond, can easily find a pond where he becomes the big fish by moving to the L party.

        Of course, one is pretty much doomed to never hold office again, so I think of it as a retirement home for people who like to run but don’t think they’ll ever hold office.

        1. He could have been a big fish of the Senator variety in the GOP pond. His ego blinded him.

    3. Stuff like this is why Johnson is a Libertarian and Milton Friedman was a libertarian.

      It’s also why Rothbard spat on the idea of a Libertarian Party, as he understood that FPTP electoral politics would lead to the worst kind of compromise. Saying that the state has the legitimate power to force relationships on unwilling people–economic, sexual, whatever–is plainly wrong, regardless of one’s good intentions or utilitarian calculus. If people don’t have the right to be left alone by their peers, much less the state, they can’t be said to have many rights at all.

      That said, I like Johnson as a populist representative for the movement, I donated to his campaign, and I believe he’d be the best president since Coolidge were he to be elected. He’s just badly wrong on this issue in the grand tradition of Wayne A. Root and remains criminally undereducated in the fundamentals of libertarian philosophy from either an Austrian or a Chicago perspective.

  2. Below, watch 2012 Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson interviewed briefly by Jeff4Justice, a gentleman who lives in his SUV, interviews celebrities and politicians alike, and advocates both about gay issues and for third-party candidate inclusion in elections:

    so basically he is Chris Farley in that SNL skit? What in the fuck?

    1. yes, only gay so he probably keeps a nicer van down by the river and dresses better.

      1. Why would anybody feel a need to be interviewed by a homeless gay man? The internet is a strange place.

        1. Someone really desparate to talk to someone or answer questions.

        2. Johnson is politician, obviously he needed an attention fix. It is horrifying to what levels of degradation such an addict will sink to in order satisfy their cravings.

        3. So being either homeless or gay invalidates one’s opinion, and being both doubly so? Nice.

    2. Most people calling for “justice” are only one step away from being total dickhead totalitarians.

  3. OT: FSU shooter a CT infested nutcase a’la Glenn Beck:


    On Saturday, May twice posted a link to a video interview from the television show “Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura.”

    The video features an interview with Dr. Robert Duncan, “who put together the technology that allows the government to transmit thoughts and voices into the heads of Americans.”


    May was also a member of a Facebook group called “Targeted Individuals International.” Targeted Individuals are people ? often seen as conspiratorial or delusional ? who contend they are targets of spying, harassment or abuse, sometimes by electromagnetic radiation weaponry.

    1. So he was a schizophrenic or something who heard voices and blamed them on the government. Seems more like typical paranoid delusions than Glen Beck style conspiracy theory.

      1. He was also high on psychotropic prescription drugs.

    2. Lincoln – murdered by a Democrat

      Garfield – murdered by someone who wanted a government job

      McKinley – Murdered by an anarchist

      Truman – attacked by left-wing Puerto Rican nationalists

      JFK – murdered by a communist

      RFK – murdered by a Palestinian nationalist

      If all this is unfair to bring up against the left…

      1. You left out Gerald Ford- attacked by California hippie cultist:

        “I stood up and waved a gun (at Ford) for a reason”, said Fromme. “I was so relieved not to have to shoot it, but, in truth, I came to get life. Not just my life but clean air, healthy water and respect for creatures and creation.”

      2. And Reagan who was attacked by a just-plain-nuts guy with no discernible political agenda.

  4. OK, I’m not 100% sure what GJ is saying. Bear in mind he’s a politician who will insist on parsing his words to avoid unpleasant interpretations.

    “There has to be an awareness, and there has to be consequences to discrimination. And there should not be discrimination. This is America.”

    You can agree with all these propositions in the sense of supporting *boycotts* against “discriminatory” businesses like Christian bakeries, employers with separate women’s and men’s restrooms, etc. That doesn’t mean he’s cool with govt coercion.

    Why not ask him to clarify?

    1. I had similar thought. Ask “do you support legislation that forbids employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation?”

    2. No, he specifically says he wants legal prohibitions.

      Also, I did reach out to his PAC but haven’t heard back yet.

      1. I viewed the video, but maybe I missed the endorsement of legal penalties.

        Can you help a brother out?

        1. To the gay wedding cake factory with you!

          1. Kuchen backen macht frei!

        2. Well, it’s unfortunately presented backwards. Jeff asks if businesses should be allowed to discriminate. After hemming and hawing a little bit he says “No.” And then there’s the part I quoted. He didn’t say there should be a law, but he did say it shouldn’t be allowed.

          1. I think you characterized his answer fairly from the video, and it’d be very hard to interpret him otherwise.

    3. Fairly typical political response where it is intended you read into the response whatever appeals to you. All interrogators need to follow up with more precise questions (if politician will stoop to answer, of course.)

  5. Worst LP Presidential candidate ever

    1. No Bob Barr was.

      1. I considered them tied before this. GayJay’s support for ENDA breaks the tie

        1. Andre Marrou’s status as the worst LP presidential nominee is almost unassailable (though I guess Wayne Root could’ve pulled it off).

          1. Sheesh, and I really liked both of them!

  6. In context, when he says “there has to be consequences to discrimination”, I don’t think he weasel of admitting he meant legal consequences.

    Disappointed, I am.

    1. Social progressives are, when all is said and done, progressives.

      1. Sad but true.

      1. Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals.

        Except the weasel.

  7. This is the same asshole who a couple weeks ago declared that he was going to save us all from the horror of voting for Rand Paul because he’s a real libertarian, because libertarians are ‘flaming social liberals’. You are a narcissistic self-important loser Gary. You could have been a senator if not for your hypertrophic ego.

    1. Bitter, party of one…Bitter…

  8. *In the voice of Dave Chappelle*

    I never thought I’d say this, but Gary Johnson has smoked himself stupid.

  9. “Freedom of association”. What is it?

  10. Johnson says the discrimination should be legally prohibited: “There has to be an awareness, and there has to be consequences to discrimination. And there should not be discrimination. This is America.”

    And this is why Johnson is not a libertarian.

    Robert Wenzel’s opinion of Johnson, around the time Gary was running for president for the Libertarian Party, was that he seemed more like a well-meaning liberal and not a knowledgeable libertarian. That much was clear to him after Wenzel interviewed him for the Economic Policy Journal.

    1. I remember that to be a particularly painful interview. You could tell Johnson was dancing around the economics questions with as much grace as he could muster, but he was completely unprepared for Wenzel and the basic Austrian monetary stuff.

  11. Gary Johnson jumped the shark when he tried using the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to force his way into Presidential debates.

  12. Putting aside my dislike for Johnson…

    Wanting to turn the clock on anti-discrimination laws based on race will get liberty-minded people nowhere. It’s a turnoff. There’s a reason why Rand Paul moved away from the position; it’s political suicide–essentially an excuse for the Left to accuse you of thinks you are not.

    1. *things

  13. 2016 is not looking good for the LP right now. I can support neither Rand Paul nor Gary Johnson. I’ve never liked Johnson’s fair tax which would force me to pay taxes again when I spend the profits from selling my house after I’ve already paid income tax on that same money. Johnson’s LGBT position is just plain wrong. The Rand option doesn’t even deserve discussion.

    Please, won’t some real libertarian with a substantial credential step up to the plate and join the race? Surely there must be someone who fits the bill. Someone who has actually been a declared libertarian for a long time.

    1. Rand Paul is the answer.

      Change won’t come if people spend all this time griping over “purity”. Change usually happens incrementally. I can’t stand Johnson at all, so Rand is my answer.

    2. I’ll see if I can give it a shot in a decade or so once I pass that age requirement. 8)

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.