Libertarians Lose Gay Battles, Eventually Win Gay War at CPAC

The right will be gay friendly and libertarian... one day soon.


Gage Skidmore

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2010, Students for Liberty President Alexander McCobin delivered a well-remembered speech praising the conference's organizers for allowing a gay conservative group to participate. McCobin also called on conservatives to embrace legal equality for gay people. He received cheers from libertarian-leaning students in the crowd, and also considerable hostility from social conservatives—including Young Americans for Freedom activist Ryan Sorba, who followed up McCobin's remarks with a hateful condemnation of gay people as unnatural.

In years since, gay conservatives have faced varying degrees of animosity at the conference, as CPAC—and conservatism as a whole—grappled with its identity crisis on social issues.

This year, the Log Cabin Republicans initially claimed they were being blackballed from CPAC, but after conversations with event organizers its president was invited to appear on a panel to discuss Russia's anti-gay policies.

There is some evidence that social conservatives are the ones actually feeling marginalized at CPAC these days. According to Politico, Mike Huckabee is steering clear of the conference in part because of its libertarian tilt, and Rick Santorum will supposedly deliver a speech razor-focused on national security, rather than social issues.

Taken together, these things provide a clear picture of the future of the conservative movement: it will be gay friendly, and very libertarian.

How do I know this? Because there aren't enough anti-gay young people to replenish the ranks of older conservatives. Libertarianism has already won the war for the souls of non-liberal young people. Visit a campus, and the strongest challenge to liberal orthodoxy is coming not from a legitimately conservative movement, but from students who either lean or fully embrace the tenets of libertarianism. More than 1,700 students attended McCobin's International Students for Liberty Conference* this year; one of the evening events was an "LGBT Libertarian Social/Dane Party" at Town Danceboutique, a gay club.

Young libertarians have different priorities than conservatives on social issues, and on foreign policy. There is every reason to believe that they will play an increasingly strong role in setting the right's agenda in the years to come, no matter how many battles they lose from year to year (and they are losing fewer and fewer of them).

Related: "Libertarian Students Honor Their Chosen Hero, Edward Snowden"

*Disclaimer: I spoke at the conference, as did several other Reason staffers. I have also participated in many previous ISFL events. Reason is a "Silver Level" sponsor of the conference.

Watch Reason TV cover CPAC and gay issues below.

NEXT: Steve Chapman: The Black Family in 1965 and Today

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  1. Libertarianism has already won the war for the souls of non-liberal young people. Visit a campus, and the strongest challenge to liberal orthodoxy is coming not from a legitimately conservative movement, but from students who either lean or fully embrace the tenets of libertarianism.

    Abandoning social/moral principles to fight oppression any way possible… WIN!

    Liberals should drop their weapons and flee any minute…

    1. Ha! That’s an excellent parody of conservative retards who try to smear libertarians as amoral libertines.

      1. If we’re here for something other than just gay marriage and legal weed, does that make us conservative retards or amoral libertines?

        Considering the jubilant celebration of “Gayness FTW!”, I can forgive ‘conservative retards’ like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio who might consider some/all of us amoral libertines but are willing to stand beside us on secondary issues like the budget and the ACA.

        And, as a straight libertarian, the celebration rings pretty hollow. If considering things as such makes me a conservative retard, I’d rather wear that mantle to my death than the ‘amoral libertine’ badge into totalitarianism.

  2. Robby, your gayness is showing.

    1. He’s not gay. You can tell by his shoes.

  3. You know who else was gay Republican?

  4. Taken together, these things provide a clear picture of the future of the conservative movement: it will be gay friendly, and very libertarian

    At the rate our out of control government is speeding down the totalitarian highway, the only movement we’re going to see is on the train cars to the gulags.

    We have a president who is enacting this alleged entire agenda, without congress, unopposed by anyone. The longer he gets away with this, the more outrageous the next executive action will be. And no one is seriously even attempting to stop him.

    We have a total of 3 people in congress who are libertarian leaning.

    I’m not a pessimist, but this supposed libertarian moment Reason is always posting articles about is not even in view on the horizon using a powerful telescope. It’s somewhere out there in the Virgo Super Cluster, but not in our local cluster.

    1. Look at conservatives. They rarely get what they want out of the GOP either.

      So-cons didn’t get their watered down European level abortion bill, either.

      Maybe Boehner is just incompetent.

  5. Thanks. For more on Libertarian action on these and similar issues, see the non-partisan worldwide Libertarian International Organization via

  6. I don’t doubt that there is increasing support for libertarian ideals among younger conservatives, but the question is to whether it will be enough to change the nature of the Republican party. There is a real possibility that the SoCon and Crony wings of the party will still control things for the foreseeable future, or, in the case of the SoCons, simply sit out of elections and rob the party of any libertarian impact.

    Meanwhile the Democratic party is more hostile to liberty than I can ever remember, seemingly willing to suffer anything to get whatever pony they are on about at the moment.

    Nothing is set in stone, but any optimism I feel is tempered by these sobering realities.

  7. Do you know how I know you’re gay?

    1. Oh, please, do tell.

  8. “Young Americans for Freedom activist Ryan Sorba, who followed up McCobin’s remarks with a hateful condemnation of gay people as unnatural.”

    I suspected that wasn’t what he said:

    Before he was drowned out by the hecklers, this is what he said according to Salon:

    “I’d like to condemn CPAC for bringing GOPride [sic] to this event. Civil rights are grounded in natural rights. Natural rights are grounded in human nature. Human nature is a rational substance in relationship to the intelligible end of the reproductive act of reproduction. Do you understand that?”

    “Civil rights when they conflict with natural rights are contrary…” [heckling]

    1. “Human nature is a rational substance in relationship to the intelligible end of the reproductive act of reproduction”

      Needs moar embedded-philosophical-hogwash posing as ‘common sense’

      1. Sure, but to take two references to “natural rights” and turn them into “hateful condemnation of gay people as unnatural” requires a certain looseness of interpretation.

        When people say, “he disagrees with me, so he hates me!” they’re saying something about their own attitudes. They’re admitting that they themselves hate those who disagree with their politics.

        1. ” to take two references to “natural rights” and turn them into “hateful condemnation of gay people as unnatural” requires a certain looseness of interpretation.”

          you’re certainly right about that.

          1. Naturally.

        2. He as saying laws should be written with the goal of incentivizing reproduction, and only reproduction by heterosexuals, since he is unaware gay people have babies. Instead of having law protect individual liberty. It’s homo hatred with a patina of education.

    2. You left off the best part at the end: “The lesbians at Smith College protest better than you do.”

      The Ron Paul guys shouldn’t feel insulted by that, of course.

    3. And then he stepped back into his time machine and returned to the 13th century.

      1. Make that 14th. Europe before the Inquisition was actually a bit more tolerant of such things.

  9. “Libertarians Lose Gay Battles, Eventually Win Gay War”

    And we came second in a gay wrestling match!

  10. May 3 gay males create a marriage?

    May 4 straight females form a marriage?

    May a father marry his son?

    May a mother marry her two daughters?

    If not, why not?

    1. Yes, no, no, yes.

    2. May I repeat ad nauseam questions that have already been answered?

    3. No, no, yes, no.

      Any two adults may marry.

      A marriage of more than two people would require we redefine the legal status of marriage. Might be worth doing, but will take considerable time, effort, public debate, and decades of legal cases peculating through the system to arrive at a settled understanding of what it means when three or more people are “married”.

      1. +1 Moon is a Harsh Mistress

        1. RAH really did present a pretty solid case there and in most of the later Lazarus books for family being about making sure the next generation was well taken care of, regardless of who or how many were doing the caretaking.

    4. “If not, why not?”

      Because marriage is a binary contract between non-family members.

      Before you launch into an ‘aha!’ about how that’s ultimately arbitrary, please read the pamphlet about how no one really gives a shit.

      refusing to deal with the subject in real terms (i.e. there are millions and millions of gay people who simply want to get married to each other, and not to their sisters or their dogs) is a common weakness in the anti-SSM camp.

      The idea that, “any change to the status quo naturally devolves to complete and utter chaos and then ‘anything goes'” is ridiculous and isn’t even really worth taking seriously. Its the same (as noted) arguments that anti-immigration folk often make which posits that any reform of the system that exists now *at all* will consequently and necessarily lead to “complete dissolution of ‘American Culture’ and an inevitable mexican-reconquista of north america”

      i believe its commonly known as ‘reductio ad absurdum’. No one thinks its very clever.

      1. Where are the millions and millions of gay marriages then?

        1. Are YOU married?

          If yes = when you weren’t married, did that mean you didn’t care about having the *right* to be?

      2. Replace ‘adults’ with ‘non-family members’ and you got it right.

      3. So would there be anything wrong with three or more people voluntarily subscribing to a multi-polar contract instead of multiple binary ones?

        1. What do you mean by ‘wrong’?

          Wasn’t polygamy legal-ish in Utah until… something more recent than most people think?

          If you’re asking whether there’s any argument for why ‘binary’ contracts are better or worse than any other…. i’m sure there is one. I’m not sure they’re ultimately convincing from a philosophical POV. But the whole substance of my point was that its not a philosophical debate – there’s a substantial minority asking for equal treatment under current law = not for some complete and utter revision of historical understanding of what ‘marriage’ actually entails.

          I think the question is one better turned back on SSM opponents = what is the actual difference between SSM couples, and otherwise-childless hetero couples? Why is it necessary to deprive one couple the same status that the other enjoys?

      4. This position is as nonsensical as the anti-SSM crowd. Either way you are drawing an artificial and arbitrary line and saying “on this side of the line = marriage; on the other side = no marriage.” Whether you draw the line at 1 man, 1 woman or at only 2 people, the line is no more or less arbitrary. Anti-SSM people are assholes; if you recognize this, but insist on drawing your own line nevertheless, you are worse.

        1. tell us about your awesome dog-wife now

          1. I am highly skeptical that there is a significant population of people who actually want to marry their pets. Most people with a fully formed brain would recognize this as a non-issue and not advocate maintaining laws to prohibit that behavior. This doesn’t make your position of singling out one group of people to extend marriage rights to while simultaneously excluding it from others.

            Unless being a disingenuous douche doesn’t bother you, in which case proceed.

            1. *doesn’t make it any less retarded.

            2. “Most people with a fully formed brain would recognize this as a non-issue”

              you were telling me about “arbitrary, artificial lines” a minute ago?

            3. Well, if 3% is significant, why not 1%? 0.01%?

              There are not a significant number of LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM. You can keep adding letters, but you’ll run out at 26.

              Legend has it that when it hits 13 letters, the world will end in a great big pink flash. The only way to prevent this is to eliminate fossil fuels and castrate all white men, of course.

      5. At 3%, if ALL the LGBTQK9’s in the country “married” each other, that would add up to less than 5 million “marriages”.

        In 2013, it was around 75 000 total.

        Not worth subjugating the 97% to placate such a small minority.

      6. The idea that, “any change to the status quo naturally devolves to complete and utter chaos and then ‘anything goes'” is ridiculous and isn’t even really worth taking seriously.

        Same sex marriage seems to be the sole issue where libertarians argue from this position. Libertarians tend to use the slippery slope as a go-to argument on most matters of law and regulation, and are usually right. The net neutrality article and comment thread from earlier today is one example.

        It would seem that if the equal protection precedent established by the gay marriage rulings could conceivably apply to other marriage arrangements not currently recognized by the states, then there’s a chance it could lead to new outcomes as well (if not to “anything goes”). Basically what you’re saying is that the people who would benefit from any further reform of the law and redefinition of terms in this space can go fuck themselves until they get the same political clout that gays currently have. The same “fuck you” argument could have applied to gay marriage 15 years ago.

        1. Islam allows 4 wives. Since we have freedom of religion in our country, how can we not allow them the right to have 4 wives?

          If the rule is “consenting adults” then I don’t see how we can ban polygamy.

    5. Sure, I don’t give a shit. None of my business.

    6. Are they all consenting adults?

    7. Depends on which Religion you follow.

    8. Here’s a clue for retards: contracts are only between two parties who are capable of consent. Marriage should be a contract. Toasters, goats, and children can’t be parties to a contract.

      Contracts involving multiple parties require subgroups to incorporate I believe. So 3 gay men could have a set of marriage contracts, but since all contracts are agreements between two people – you and I can’t agree about how Matt Welch would fit into our lives without his consent – you and I would have to become some type of unit, a marital LLC, and then have that legal entity sign a contract with Matt. So forward me your photo. Then after I administer an IQ test to see if you got any of that, we can consider incorporating and offering a contract to Matt or Robby.

  11. I’m sorta scared to ask, but what’s a “gay battle” or “gay war?”

    1. “what’s a “gay battle” or “gay war?”

      Like this, but the music isn’t as good

      1. Hmm.. I was thinking more about these guys.

  12. Let’s kick the SOCONS out of conservatism and go back to the days of the New Deal–those halcyon days of libertariansim. Next stop free-dom. Those 45 state Democratic landslides did wonders for small government.

    1. I’m at CPAC where I am trying to avoid social cons, unless they are personal friends, but once a day I bump into some little so con weirdo who is lost in a twisted conceptual maze constructed to justify their hatred of gays, among others. Funnily enough their arguments are the same as those of Obama Democrats. I just had one become deranged at the Leadership Institute happy hour, because the fact that the 2% of the population that is gay can marry means all their damn spouses and kids may get to be on his companies insurance which could cost him money. So In other words, the existence of the welfare states means government should control our lives. Michelle Obama says if government pays for healthcare then it gets to tell you what you can eat. Mr. social Conservative says if the income tax codes more or less mandate employer provided health insurance, it gets to tell us who we can marry.

  13. How do I know this? Because there aren’t enough anti-gay young people to replenish the ranks of older conservatives.

    Let me clue you into a little immutable fact of American life Robby. Young people are liberal and grow conservative as they age.

    1. But what conservatives are conserving also changes over time. Future conservatives will be hatemongering people who want to marry their sexbots and saying “why can’t they just get gay married like normal people?”

      1. So, if I’m opposed to human sexbot unions compelling humans or robots to bake them a cake against their will, does that make me an amoral libertine or a conservative retard?

        What if I oppose covering sexbots under the ACA too?

    2. This is a myth that has been researched, and it turns out that if anything, people tend to get more open-minded and liberal as they age. It’s just that today’s older conservatives were very bigoted when they were younger, and had further to go.


      1. It’s almost as if social mores change over time and the values commonly held in our grandparents’ generations differ from those today.

        But nah, that sounds too simplistic.

        1. “The world always was the way I remember it when I was growing up.”

    3. I always found ‘young people are liberal and grow conservative as they age’ very telling, it basically means, as you age, u start to care less about other people, and become self-centered, selfish, and cruel.

      1. That’s because you lack basic cognitive abilities.
        You don’t see the Christians going around suing bakeries. It Is the Gaystapo that is cruel and selfish.

  14. I don’t think libertarianism can really take most of the credit for increasing LGBT acceptance — that rightly belongs to the LGBT activists themselves, most of whom unfortunately tend to be knee-jerk lefties. I share Mr. Soave’s hope for the future, and am particularly pleased by the growth of libertarianism on college campuses, but I’m a bit more skeptical about how much influence such groups have in the here-and-now.

  15. Taken together, these things provide a clear picture of the future of the conservative movement: it will be gay friendly, and very libertarian.

    Goddammit, Rob. First your anti-feminist coverage of UVA, and now this. I sure wish you were more in line with the editorialists at Reason, or perhaps those staunch libertarians over at Bleeding Hearts.

  16. I just got paid usd6784 working off my laptop this month. And if you think that’s cool, my divorced friend has twin toddlers and made over usd 9k her first month. It feels so good making so much money when other people have to work for so much less. This is what I do,,,,,,

    1. Damn, it feels good to be a spammer.

  17. It seems that most of the LGBT movement is the exact opposite of Libertarianism. Examples are ENDA, government mandated fines and sensitivity training for business owners who religiously disagree with same-sex marriage, and federal courts overriding state marriage laws.

    1. First, religion has no place in discussions about freedom. Second, Sensitivity training has been used whenever a minority is given more equal rights, which America is supposed to be all about, and Fed trumps State because they won the Civil War and when states believe they can trump the equal rights of all individuals, they must be put in their place, cause chances are, they wouldn’t want the same thing to be done to them. Ironically, religious groups travel the USA giving money to anti-LGBT politicians and organizations but then complain when other groups and politicians do the same thing, even when they dont cross state lines. this is called hypocrisy isn’t it. meaning, conservatives and libertarians are complete hypocrites and “dont tread on me, but I can tread on you” should be their mantra!

      1. Barfed out like a true Prog.


      2. Listen to the all-knowing leftard tell us all what does or does not belong in a discussion about freedom.

        Looks like his “sensitivity training” didn’t take.

  18. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is wha? I do……

  19. Republicans are going to have a hard time winning presidential elections with their anti abortion, anti gay, anti pot, anti porn, bible pushing pro war and big military spending agenda

    1. Anti-abortion is now more popular than pro-choice – so you may need to update your priors.

  20. Gay people have a much of a chance of being welcomed by theocons as Pat Buchanan or Frosty Wooldridge has at being welcomed at a NAACP event. They should realize that not everyone is going to like you and move on, they wont win over these people it’s a losing fight. Also they should realize that conservatives have no interest in liberty just their version of statism.

  21. The Gaystapo has nothing to do with freedom, and everything to do with expanding the scope of state coercion.

    Now bake me a cake, peons!

  22. Although a Dane party would be popular with many gays, especially if you got at least one free Dane ticket, it was a Dance party.

  23. Ah yes. The social conservatives and their ongoing war on women, gays and drugs. And they wonder why they can’t elect one of their own to the office of president.

    We’ll never see anther republican president in our life time.

    IT’S ALL OVER COMRADES!!! And the socialists won. All thanks to the evangelical/religious right. Your off spring will hate you for generations to come because THEY get to live like the Russians of the 1950s.

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