Monday, July 31, 2006

Outright Libertarians Spotlight is Launched

Due to some heroic and horrific examples of Libertarian activism in the past month, we've launched a new blog to act as an eye on the queer-friendliness of the Libertarian Party. We're calling it the Outright Libertarians Spotlight.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Boy Scouts Learn a New Language — Newspeak

Many reading this will have Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" under their belt. Those familiar with the book will recall the ruling Party had an approved slang called "Newspeak;" and in a related concept, "Doublethink," the Party's well-known slogans were: War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; and Ignorance is Strength.

The Boy Scouts' Cradle of Liberty Council of Philadelphia has been taking a page from Orwell, turning upside-down the meaning of such phrases as:
  • Non-discrimination Policy — within weeks of adopting one in 2003, they ousted an 18 year old scout just for being gay,

  • Constitutional Right — includes any taxpayer subsidy the Scouts have historically been granted,

  • Discriminatory Action — insisting the Scouts follow the same laws as everyone else,

  • Extortion — is when someone stops charitable giving to the Scouts,

  • Equal Rights — are where Congress names you in a law.
more . . .
And when the city of San Diego settled an anti-discrimination case with the ACLU in 2004, the Scouts sued the city claiming, you guessed it, "discrimination".

The recent brouhaha concerns a situation, brewing since the 2003 expulsion of the gay scout, where the city of Philadelphia has recently told the local Scout Council to stop discriminating, pay fair market rent, or move out of the city property they have been using since 1928. The Scouts, true to form, are insisting that it is their right to discrminate, and demanding the city continue their grant . . . and they are willing to hire lawyers to have their way. Just like in their appeal of the similar Berkely, California case.

While Outright Libertarians agrees that it is their right to discrminate — that's called freedom of association — we strongly object to using taxpayer funds in doing so.

Not only governmental organizations with non-discrimination laws to abide by are taking note of the Scouts continued homophobic policy. Recently, Bank of America stopped donations to the Scouts in Georgia, the Philadelphia group has lost funding from United Way of Southeastern PA and the Pew Charitable Trust, theUnited Way of Austin Texas stopped giving grants to the Boy Scouts, and many others.

Rather than blaming gays for the Boy Scouts legal problems, perhaps the focus should be on the Scout's national leadership. They seem intent upon bankrupting the organization with the dual-edged sword of legal fees and lost donations, in order to maintain their homophobia. They should learn a lesson from the Girl Scouts, who don't seem to have the legal issues the Boy Scouts do, and who reportedly allow lesbians to join the organization.

If they did, they could start using Oldspeak again.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

How to Tell if a [Democratic] Politician is Lying . . .

"His lips are moving." Or, so goes the familiar saw.

And so it goes for Arkansas Democratic Party candidate for governor, Mike Beebe, who flip-flopped on a promise to the Stonewall Democrats to oppose any laws discriminating against gays as foster or adopted parents. This promise was made shortly before a state supreme court decision that threw out a Child Welfare Board regulation banning gay foster parents. The day following the ruling, Beebe renegged and threw his support in favor of just such a discriminatory bill.

After howls of protest from the Stonewall Democrats, who had endorsed Beebe based upon his commitment, Beebe's spokesman came up with this apologetic "Newspeak" on behalf of his employer:
more . . .
Mike Beebe said he would not sign any unconstitutional legislation or be a party to discrimination. Mike Beebe sticks by those statements.
I am not quite sure how the wannabe governor interprets "being a party to discrimination," but in my book supporting passage of a law that denies rights specifically to gays and lesbians qualifies. Even the state supreme court ruled these rights should be recognized equally for everyone.

Beebe's campaign returned a Stonewall campaign check, and presumably doesn't care about losing the Stonewall endorsement. When will the LGBT community ever learn . . .  Democrats are fair-weather friends — at best.

Without surprise, The GOP gubernatorial nominee (Asa Hutchinson), and also the sitting Republican governor (Mike Huckabee), also support barring gays from fostering. With that kind of succor from the major two parties, it is about time to consider voting Libertarian if you are really serious about equal protection before the law.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

LGBT groups on wrong side of Jury Nullification issue

In this space, we've commented on how so-called "Hate Crime" legislation is nothing more than the implementation of Orwellian "Thought Crime" and "special rights" for LGBT people. And we've even pointed out how such laws can be used against LGBT people, as was recently the case in Provincetown. However, such examples are, at least at the current time, rare. A much more pressing threat to LGBT people is the continuous chipping away at the long-standing legal concept of Jury Nullification by big-government types.
more . . .

Jury Nullification, in a nutshell, is the idea that if the legislature passes a bad law, and the executive signs the bad law, and the courts refuse to rule as unconstitutional this bad law, fully informed juries serve as a final check to ensure that innocent people don't have their rights trampled by government. A perfect example of this is an AIDS patient who needs to smoke pot to keep from vomiting up his medication. Despite having laws against marijuana passed by the legislative, signed by the executive, and upheld by the judicial branches, a fully informed jury should be able to render a verdict of "Not Guilty" when determining the fate of the AIDS patient charged with a drug violation. This is Jury Nullification. It's been around for as long as juries have, and it's vital to our system of justice. But prosecutors at every level of government, whose careers hinge on conviction rates, have gotten laws passed in most states requiring judges to instruct juries that they may not use compassion, reason, or their own good common sense in deciding the fate of the accused. Rather, they must only serve as "finders of fact," and if they find that someone broke the letter of the law, they must convict.

Unfortunately, LGBT groups like Equality California have gotten into the act by sponsoring bills like AB 1160, "The Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act," which instructs juries that they are not permitted to take into account the "panic strategies" used by defendants in cases like the murder of transgender teen Gwen Araujo in 2002. As much as we may find such "gay panic" strategies to be distasteful, we must recognize that a legal system which allows this kind of jury instruction must also allow the jury instruction to not use compassion in determining the fate of the pot-smoking AIDS patient. Beyond medical marijuana, Jury Nullification also can be used in cases of self defense by members of the LGBT community who arm themselves against queer bashers. It can even be used by protestors who violate the new Constitutionally-insulting "free speech zones" when protesting a conservative government that is increasingly hostile to LGBT equality under the law.

So, why not just let the juries do their jobs? Keep the juries fully informed of all the facts in the case, the alleged motives of the people involved, and the minimum and maximum penalties that can be imposed for given criminal counts. But don't tack on extra jury instructions, penalties for "Hate Crimes," or prohibitions against jurors using their own brains to decide a case. Gwen and Matthew will still get their justice, and so will the AIDS patient, the gun-toting queer who refuses to get bashed, and the protesting activist who won't shut up just because George Bush told her to.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hate Crimes in Provincetown—by Gays?

Here's a blog entry adapted from an email from one of our London members, Brian Miller. Everything below the line is from Brian . . .

The heterosexual minority quakes in fear of the gays in Provincetown, and begs for protection against discrimination! :lol: From the column:
more . . .
Town leaders here are holding a public meeting today to air concerns about slurs and bigoted behavior. And this time, they say, it's gay people who are displaying intolerance.

Police say they logged numerous complaints of straight people being called ``breeders" by gays over the July Fourth holiday weekend. Jamaican workers reported being the target of racial slurs. And a woman was verbally accosted after signing a petition that opposed same-sex marriage, they said.
Thank goodness the police are taking a stand against hate speech! This is a very important use of town resources. Said Town Manager Keith Bertman:
Hate language is usually the early-warning signal that could lead to hate-motivated violence. And before that happens, we try to nip it in the bud.
Soon, an epidemic of "breeder-bashing" will commence, driven by "hate speech." We must nip all of this in the bud!

The article goes on to "prove" some awful epidemic of "hate speech":
  • A woman who runs a trolley service signed an anti-gay petition in front of a gay man and was "shocked and angered" to be called a bigot in public. Apparently, she's so upset that she affixed this sign to her trolleys (without irony).

  • Jamaican immigrants are claiming that some people "don't understand their culture" and thus assume they're all homophobes;

  • Catholics claim they're facing "discrimination" because people are publicly disagreeing with them on their religious politics (and there are only a few dozen of them).

This article does the best job I've ever seen of summarizing why touchy-feely lefty "hate speech" laws are so idiotic. Gays are "bashing" straights by taking on some idiot and her business after she signs an anti-gay petition? Her signature of the petition isn't "not loving her neighbor" but someone calling her on it is hateful? People disagreeing with Jamaican dance bands which sing about burning gays alive are "anti-Jamaican racists?"


The irony is, when the Catholic church convened its anti-gay conference near P-town a couple of years ago, the police weren't talking about "growing intolerant hate speech." They were celebrating "free speech."

When local venues hosted Jamaican rap artists who call for "batty boys" to be "stabbed and set alight," not much happened from the P-town police, certainly not a "tolerance conference."

And there's been zero physical violence in P-town against Catholics, Jamaicans, or anti-gay-marriage morons. (I wish the same could be said of gays).

What this article really proves is that Libertarians — and only Libertarians — will set you free. Only Libertarians will resist popular efforts to censor any point of view with government "committees to stop hate speech." Only Libertarians will defend the right of both the trolley driver to express her stupid point of view AND her opponent to call her on it in the town square (without her claiming some horrible victimhood). Only Libertarians will defend the rights of both the Jamaican rap "artists" to sing their schlock AND those who oppose them to protest vigorously.

Liberal Democrats (and conservative Republicans) will look at the electoral numbers and will choose whichever side has the most votes at the time, first amendment be damned. That means gays will lose more often then they win -- and so will everyone else.

Update: More strife in Provincetown.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Marriage and the First Amendment

Even though this has been posted a few weeks already at The Elitest Pig, I just came across this article on same-sex marriage recently. Quoting from the column by Dave Nalle:
In all this talk about a Defense of Marriage Amendment our legislators seem to have missed the fact that we already have an amendment which defends marriage, the First Amendment. It clearly defends marriage as a sacrement of the church and declares it to be free from government interference when it says:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

If my religion recognizes marriage as a sacrament and allows me to marry someone of the same gender, doesn't the First Amendment clearly say that Congress has no right to prohibit that exercise of religion and that I am free to practice that sacrament? To tell my church what it can and cannot define as a marriage seems like a total violation of this separation of church and state. Marriage isn't defined in the Constitution any more than Baptism or Confirmation is.
It's an interesting point. Of course, gays have been getting married in some churches for years. It is civil marriage—the one that shouldn't discriminate—that is still being denied to same-sex couples in 49 states and by the federal government.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

State Messes Up Role As Recorder

The state (of New York, in this case) can't even seem to get the simple role of public recorder done right. In the case of female-to-male transgender Evan Rockefeller, a judge in Rochester has refused to change his name from Sarah to Evan, claiming that more evidence is needed. What more important evidence is there than "everyone calls me Evan now, and no one knows me as Sarah"?

It seems to me that by not recording the name change, there is a lot more room for confusion, cost, and potential abuse than if this simple request were honored. What business is it of the state what one's name is, so long as all contracts are honored, no matter which name was used when they were entered into? By recording the name change, interested parties would be able to see that Sarah and Evan are the same person, reducing the risk of fraud. It would also allow Evan to move on with his life.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Scouts Waste More Tax Dollars in Court

Some lawyers are getting rich at the expense of the Boy Scouts and the taxpayers. Seems they are going to appeal their loss in the city of Berkeley vs. Sea Scouts case. Outright Libertarian's position on this case is well documented here and here: Berkeley is doing the correct thing in disallowing tax subsidies to the Scouts. We wonder why any private club is getting tax subsidies, and especially so if all citizens are not granted equal access to participate in the benefits.

In a related recent story, Bank of America has stopped contributing to the Scouts because of their blatantly discriminatory policies. We hope the Scouts don't harass BofA with a lawsuit demanding charity at the point of a gun, as they are attempting to do in Berkeley.

We are willing to keep our nose out of the Scouts' business, if they would just do the same for us, the taxpayers.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Where Rights Derive From

This misguided editorial opposing same-sex marriage would hardly be worth mentioning, except for two statements in the final paragraphs: one undeniably true, and the other so false as to justify this blog entry. Says the commentator . . .
Our legislators do not understand the American system of government.

All legitimate rights come from the people, through their elected representatives.
more . . .
We can agree that most of our legislators do not understand the separation of powers, the constitutional limits of government, who works for whom, and the other guiding priciples of our republican system of government (at least as intended as opposed to how practiced).

But, the idea that rights come from the people or from legislatures is so wrong-headed as to send any lover of liberty into convulsions. One might just as well say that we live another day because Al Qaeda grants us the right to life. Our rights do not derive from anyone (or everyone) who can take them away. Likewise, we did not institute government amongst us so that it could grant us our rights.

The writer needs to refresh his reading of enlightenment authors such as Hobbes, Locke, and Jefferson so that he can recall the principle of natural rights; or "unalianable rights," as described in the Declaration of Independence. The legislature can either help protect our natural rights, in which case they are doing what we hired them for, or they can infringe them, in which case we need a new legislature. One thing they cannot do is make them, no matter how god-like they portray themselves.

Hat tip to Christopher Cole for pointing out the article.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Surprising Statement in CA marriage case

Wow! I had no idea that I would hear anything like this from an appellete court judge in anything like the present epoch:
Is it time for the state to get out of the marriage business altogether and simply issue civil union licenses?
Perhaps the libertarian position on marriage is gaining traction faster than I thought possible. Read this for the rest of the story.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

BofA "One": Politicians "Zero"

Bank of America has decided to stop donating to the Boy Scouts of America because of its recently revised non-discrimination policy. In a letter to the Boy Scouts, Bank of America states:
under the non-discrimination policy, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation cannot provide funding to any organization that practices discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin, ancestry, citizenship or veteran or disability status. [...] The Boy Scouts of America has a constitutional right to provide a youth organization for families who share those values. Other groups are similarly free and may follow a different path.
Well put. Kudos to Bank of America for opposing discrimination. The Boy Scout representative replied politely:
more . . .
every nonprofit organization serves a specific audience, as does Scouting. To open membership to those who do not share the values of the Scout Oath and Law would violate our constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association.
Though I disagree with the Scouts policy, I defend their right to choose their own membership. However I don't quite see how a non-discriminatory membership policy, as many associations have, would "violate [the Scouts'] constitutional rights."

So far so good. Then the politicians get involved.

Claiming that BoA's policy amounts to extortion, Georgia’s Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) and Sen. John Wiles (R-Marietta) responded to Bank of America’s statement, saying that they will draft legislation that will bar state government from doing business with companies that cite such “non-discrimination policies” when dealing with youth organizations.

These two miss the point entirely.
  • Witholding charity because of a difference in values is hardly extortion.

  • They are coming down on the wrong side. They talk as if the BofA donation was an entitlement. To the contrary, BofA is well within their rights to chose who (and who not) to donate to.

  • It will be extortion if they force BofA to resume their contribution to the Scouts by passing or threatening to pass a law aimed at them.

  • Since they can't make it a crime to "not donate," they must charge BofA with "citing a non-discrimination policy". Besides the absurdity of making a crime of non-discrimination, haven't these guys ever heard of the freedoms of speech and association?

  • This is no business of the state. They should just stay out of it.

It's a sign of how far the gay rights movement has to go when some sleazy politicians can curry the favor of the electorate by opposing a private company's non-discrimination policy. Besides witholding donations to the Boy Scouts, Georgians should withold their votes for these Republicans, and vote Libertarian instead.

Commentary from the HRC

This commentary by Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese, steers an almost libertarian course, asking for "the same legal protections and rights offered to every other American — no more, and no less." This is a refreshing break from the past where the HRC has demanded "special rights" for gays and lesbians (such as hate crime laws). Maybe they are realizing that the previous approach was generating a backlash, not to mention that "special rights" are, well, unequal.

Ed Thompson Speaks Out for Gay Rights in Wisconsin

Former Libertarian candidate for Governor, Ed Thompson predicts Wisconsin will turn down a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions. I hope he is right.
Thompson, who is the brother of former [Republican] Governor Tommy Thompson, says the amendment is part of the — quote — "incredible hatred and bias that is ruining our country."

The Tomah City Council member and restaurant owner spoke last night at an award banquet for gay rights activists.
Update: More coverage.
Another Update:Ed's prediction may come true.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

New LP Plank on Sexuality and Gender

For those that have not seen the revised Libertarian Party plank on Sexuality and Gender, I reproduce what I believe is the final version here, below the jump. It is something that we are pleased with.

The planks that were retained or modified by the 2006 Convention, contrary to some of the doomsaying presently filtering across the Internet, are all true to libertarianism, thus proving that the conjectured reactionary elements of the reform movement didn't replace libertarian principles with conservative or evangelical ones. Frankly, I think that much of the talk about being taken over by the Constitution or Republican Party is just scare tactics by those who didn't want to see any moderation of the existing platform language. All the reform caucus members I have met are clearly Libertarians (though admittedly incrementalists), and anyone who calls them Republicans is just resorting to smear tactics. The sky is not falling; I am confident that the LP will come out of this stronger than ever.

In any case, here at Outright Libertarians, we have a sexuality and gender plank that I think we can proudly contrast to anything the big two parties have. Thanks to Bonnie Scott for sheparding this through the platform committee, and to our chair, Rob Power for providing an assist at some critical junctures.
more . . .

I.12 Sexuality and Gender

The Issue: Politicians use popular fears and taboos to legally impose a particular code of moral and social values. Government regularly denies rights and privileges on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Principle: Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have legitimate authority to define or license personal relationships. Sexuality or gender should have no impact on the rights of individuals.

Solutions: Culture wars, social friction and prejudice will fade when marriage and other personal relationships are treated as private contracts, solely defined by the individuals involved, and government discrimination is not allowed.

Transitional Action: Repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act and state laws and amendments defining marriage. Oppose any new laws or Constitutional amendments defining terms for personal, private relationships. Repeal any state or federal law assigning special benefits to people based on marital status, family structure, sexual orientation or gender identification. Repeal any state or federal laws denying same-sex partners rights enjoyed by others, such as adoption of children and spousal immigration. End the Defense Department practice of discharging armed forces personnel for sexual orientation. Upgrade all less-than-honorable discharges previously assigned solely for such reasons to honorable status, and delete related information from military personnel files. Repeal all laws discriminating by gender, such as protective labor laws and marriage, divorce, and custody laws which deny the full rights of each individual.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Unintended Consequences

Here's a case of a sexual orientation nondiscrimination law being used against gay high school kids. We've been warning everyone about stuff like this for years.

City, conservative group settle lawsuit over gay-themed school -

At least in this case, the entity being barred from discriminating is a taxpayer-funded one, so the outcome is in line with libertarian principles. But it's just a matter of time before state or local nondiscrimination laws regarding private entities are used against gay people. In their effort to eliminate "straights only" businesses and clubs, gay leaders have gotten laws passed that may one day destroy gay business and clubs. It doesn't take long for the conservatives to learn how to use our own favorite laws against us, as this Harvey Milk High School case clearly shows.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Outright Libertarians New Officers

Outright Libertarians (USA) held its annual meeting in conjunction with the Libertarian Party convention this past weekend in Portland where we elected our four officers.

The results were as follows:

Chair — Rob Power (was reelected Chair)
Vice-Chair — Ruth Bennett
Secretary — Rich Newell (was Vice-Chair)
Treasurer — Beau Cain (was Treasurer pro tempore)

You may recall Ruth from her run as governor of Washington in 2004 where she held the balance of power in the election, or in her role as chair of the Washington and Colorado state LP affiliates.

The website will be updated shortly to reflect the changes. A warm welcome to the new officers, and our grateful "thank you" to Doyle Jones, our outgoing Secretary. We all sincerely hope Doyle remains on the ExComm as the Georgia representative.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Outright Libertarians in the News

This news column about the just completed Libertarian Party convention catches our Chair, Rob Power wishing he were living back in San Francisco. It's too bad that the journalist had to focus on the "kooky" nature of the party—it's going to take a while for us to shake that image, especially if we keep feeding it.