Sunday, January 28, 2007

If she's this bad when running in the primary...

Historically, major party candidates for President tend to pander to the extremes of their party during the primary, then move back to "the center" for the general election.

If this is Hillary Clinton during the primary, imagine how terrible she'll be once she gets the nomination. She may end up running to the right of the Republican on gay rights if she keeps this up.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Running Up That Hill

In the least surprising political announcement of the past decade, Hillary Clinton has come out of the campaign closet and announced her not-so-secret intentions to seek the presidency in 2008:

Clinton advisers said they chose Saturday as the target date for an announcement during a meeting in mid-December, and that Mrs. Clinton was “raring to go” on Friday, in the words of one confidant.

“I have never been afraid to stand up for what I believe in or to face down the Republican machine,” Mrs. Clinton said in announcing a presidential exploratory committee of her new “Hillary for President” Web site. “After nearly $70 million spent against my campaigns in New York and two landslide wins, I can say I know how Washington Republicans think, how they operate, and how to beat them.”

Mrs. Clinton is positioned as a differentiated candidate in the Democratic Party fold, along with John Edwards and Barack Obama.

However, we fail to see much policy differentiation on the issues that matter most to gay Americans. Like Obama and Edwards (and her fellow New York Senator Chuck Schumer), Mrs. Clinton is an ouspoken supporter of the DOMA law, which bans same-sex marriage and civil union recognition at a federal level.

She maintains ambiguity regarding her position on various other areas of gay concern, including whether or not gay families should have to pay higher taxes than opposite-sex families, the rights of gay Americans to sponsor a foreign partner for residency/citizenship, and a host of other real-life gay issues.

The Washington gay Democratic establishment, including the Human Rights Campaign, will doubtlessly trumpet her "commitment" to boilerplate symbolism, like ENDA and ending the military's ban on gays (a policy as unpopular with the general public as the Iraq War) and will hail her "courage" on those issues.

But as usual, no matter which of the three Democrats that said party chooses, the difference between their choice and the Republican nominee will be so marginal as to be statistically insignificant.

So good luck, Mrs. Clinton and other Democratic candidates. You will need it come election-time, when the Libertarian Party will once again be the only national party to unambiguously embrace a pro-gay, pro-straight, pro-liberty platform for all Americans. Over the next several days, Outright Libertarians will be speaking with each declared Libertarian candidate announcing their intention to seek our party's nomination, and publishing each discussion on this blog.

While neither the Democratic nor Libertarian Parties have chosen their presidential candidates, we can safely predict that the Democratic Party's tired anti-gay "we're not as bad as the Republicans" response -- and dismal record compared to the LP -- will be perhaps the only "new announcement" that is less surprising than Mrs. Clinton's announcement of her intentions.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Gay Dems find their spine...finally

Congratulations to gay Democratic leaders who, after a shameful 2006 defending anti-marriage-equality candidates like Harold Ford and Bob Casey, have finally started to speak up in defense of marriage equality.

Though the real test will be whether their spines turn to jelly again when an anti-marriage candidate like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama gets their party's nomination in 2008.

Nipping The Censors In The Bud

Good news on the fight over government regulation of media mentioned yesterday:

The Senate, on a 55-43 vote, approved an amendment pushed by Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, to strip a provision requiring reporting of "grass-roots" lobbying.

This amendment's success means the provisions requiring registration of "grass roots lobbying" (including blog posts) are dead -- for now.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Your Newest Friendly Neighborhood Registered Blog Lobbyist

Hello there, this is your federally-registered blogger, who has the requisite license to blog about politics after receiving federal permission and filing quarterly reports.

Or it will be, if the recent amendments to a "campaign finance law" are put in place.

Don't take my word for it, read what the ACLU has to say about it:

Section 220, entitled “Disclosure of Paid Efforts to Stimulate Grassroots Lobbying” imposes onerous reporting requirements that will chill constitutionally protected activity. Advocacy organizations large and small would now find their communications to the general public about policy matters redefined as lobbying and therefore subject to registration and quarterly reporting. Failure to register and report could have severe civil and potentially criminal sanctions. Section 220 would apply to even small, state grassroots organizations with no lobbying presence in Washington. When faced with burdensome registration and reporting requirements, some of these organizations may well decide that silence is the best option.

That's right. This blatant violation of our First Amendment rights would require groups (including Outright Libertarians) who publish on the web to register and record all of our activities with the federal government on a quarterly basis -- or be fined and imprisoned.

Note that bloggers, not the mainstream media, have put the pressure on Democrats and Republicans about Iraq, gay rights, taxes, and accountability. Note that bloggers, not the various bog-standard inside-the-beltway lobbying groups, have kept citizens informed and politicians -- at all levels -- honest.

This assault on blogging is not a surprise. Powerful, unaccountable politicians in Washington despise the idea that there are critics and commentators out there beyond the reach of their Washington power structure. John McCain, for instance, whined at Jerry Falwell's university that people publishing their opinion on the internet are stupid and naive.

One wonders whether he thinks the same of people who bought into his now-apparently reverseved belief that Jerry Falwell was "an agent of intolerance" or that he was opposed to anti-gay laws, before then supporting Arizona's failed bigot amendment against gays. One thing is for certain, he thinks that we should be required to get the government's permission to talk about it.

Former president George Bush Sr. wheedles that American political discourse has "gotten so adversarial that it’s ugly" and says this is due to "electronic media and the bloggers."

Unfortunately, there was no comment from the former president about the "Swift Boat" campaign his son deployed, his son's campaign to exempt gay Americans from the Constitution's protection clause, and whether he considers Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh to be "electronic media and bloggers." Apparently, the neoconservative aristocracy, with its hate-filled hyperbole, aren't as accountable for the "coarsening of our culture" as yours truly. (Perhaps he believes that, like Coulter, we should start calling for horrible things to happen to our adversaries in order to elevate discourse above the base, shameless empiricism that our group represents?)

On the left, Democrats are no better. For the actual vote, every Democratic Senator who cast a vote on the bill voted for it, including such "liberal lions" as Teddy Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, and "rising star" Barack Obama.

Freedom of expression, freedom to criticize, and freedom to associate are all cherished rights protected by our Constitution. It is a travesty that politicians, many of whom claimed to favor freedom of association in the context of the Boy Scouts of America case and other situations, would take such a sweeping and unchallenged broadside at our basic rights.

Libertarians roundly condemn this power grab, just as we condemned the "campaign finance reform" before it -- which was largely used to prevent our party's candidates; the Green Party's candidates; and independent candidates from getting an equal chance to raise money and debate the old party politicians who are slowly plunging our country into a morass of crisis.

Regardless of the outcome of this legislation, you can count on the Libertarian Party (and Outright Libertarians) to keep shining the light on powerful politicians of all parties -- and continuing to contribute to the news, analysis and open, free market of ideas that so frustrates their efforts to build absolute power.

Update: Government overreaching makes strange bedfellows. Not only are the ACLU and this blogger up in arms about this power grab, but the right-wing Family Research Council has joined the fight against the law, and National Review's Stephen M. Hoersting muses about what Jim Crow states would have done with the data collected by this law, as Martin Luther King would have been required to register as a lobbyist under its provisions.

Update 2: Some are claiming that the bill requires only those earning $100,000 a year for posting blog posts or other exhortations to contact Congressmen or otherwise lobby the government are "in danger." Despite this, there are serious doubts about the interpretation of this section, the amount of compensation, and the definition of "lobbying." In effect, individual organizations with budgets, blogs and newsletters, could find themselves categorized as "lobbyists."

I recommend you let your Congressperson know that you do not support the law as it stands and urge them to support a Bennett-amendment-like change.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Big Government Coercion: It's Not Only National

Crackpots from anti-science movements have filed an international criminal charge against Zackie Achmat, an activist who has volunteered much of his time to find public and private sector funds to provide protease inhibitors and other anti-HIV drugs to the poor of Africa.

It would be one thing if Anthony Brink of the Treatment Information Group, the individual using the "international court," wished to argue his own case against Achmat's thesis. According to the Advocate, the source of the disagreement is:

The case has become a controversial benchmark because it is seen as a difference of opinion. Brink receives funding from Dr. Matthias Rath, who favors vitamin usage in lieu of drugs for the treatment of HIV, while TAC has been a public advocate for treating HIV with medication use.

Now, let's ignore the unscientific nature of the contention that HIV treatments developed by pharmaceutical companies are "deadly and ineffective" for a moment. Both Brink and Achmat have the right to advance their theories with the population, and individuals who choose to take vitamins in lieu of effective medical treatment (and die earlier of advanced HIV disease) should be free to do so if they so choose.

But Brink, in typical big government power abusive fashion, has decided that nobody should be able to choose, advocate or facilitate mainstream medical treatment for HIV. Not only is he willing to risk the health of those who have chosen to take standard HIV drugs (which are known the world over for extending life for those with HIV by years or decades), but he's also willing to abuse "criminal justice" to imprison the individual with whom he disagrees.

Anyone who thinks that further government interference in our health care here in America is a good idea should take note. If individuals with a crackpot agenda and some good lawyers get a bit of influence, you could find your own medical decisions being overruled by people who mandate warm water to treat cancer, or Centrum to treat pneumocystis -- while denying you the right to seek your own preferred treatment. With that power, statists would strip the rights of entire vulnerable groups of people -- such as those with HIV -- from making their own decisions and taking steps to extend their lifetimes and improve the quality of their lives.

Nothing could be more unethical, immoral, or even "genocidal."

As for the other problem, the abuse of the "international criminal court," that's self-evident. Fortunately, the court has no jurisdiction in the USA, where our Constitution is the law of the land. This news story illustrates the wisdom of preserving that status quo in perpetuity.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Trouble With Government-Licensed Marriage

Outright has posted often about the problems that marriage inequality provides. But we've also made clear our view that government marriage "licenses" -- with equal treatment for GLBT and heterosexual people -- are still imperfect because they involve government in our intimate lives.

Simply put, when government "licenses" your marriage or other family arrangements, it imposes its own standards upon you, which may or may not equal your values. Gay people in many states already acutely understand this, as they find their own families under constant assault from zealous "family values" hypocrites and their army of willing government bureaucrats.

Unfortunately, government marriages don't accommodate everyone either, and come with severe penalties. Take the present situation in Michigan, for instance:

In a ruling sure to make philandering spouses squirm, Michigan's second-highest court says that anyone involved in an extramarital fling can be prosecuted for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony punishable by up to life in prison.

"We cannot help but question whether the Legislature actually intended the result we reach here today," Judge William Murphy wrote in November for a unanimous Court of Appeals panel, "but we are curtailed by the language of the statute from reaching any other conclusion."

"Technically," he added, "any time a person engages in sexual penetration in an adulterous relationship, he or she is guilty of CSC I," the most serious sexual assault charge in Michigan's criminal code.

Now I am a believer in monogamy. I expect a degree of sexual exclusivity in my relationship, and my partner and I mutually agree to this. However, many people -- heterosexual and homosexual -- have differing arrangements. Who am I to demand that they agree to my arrangement in their own relationships -- or face life in prison?

Even worse, what about the fact that most people are human? Statistics show that a majority of marriages encounter infidelity at one point or another. Michigan has chosen to transform what is typically solved either through private counselling and intimate discussion, or sometimes the break-up of a relationship, into a massive criminal case with a penalty that is potentially more severe than rape.

Think about that for a moment -- a drunken fling by a spouse resulting in a bit of hanky-panky with a stranger could land one in prison for life as a registered sex offender, with a longer sentence than a predatory rapist could receive.

Is this the proper role for government? We don't think so. It's an abuse of the criminal justice system. Imagine what would happen if a homophobic prosecutor in Michigan, after the creation of marriage equality under the present system, decided to disproportionately target gay men and lesbians who succumb to extramarital temptation with life-in-prison sentences as a "protest" against gay marriage, and suddenly the stakes become even higher.

In Massachusetts, where same-sex government marriage licenses are available, individuals who have been married have been publicly targeted by anti-gay and anti-privacy forces. Since all marriages are placed on a public registry, many gay people who have sought a low-profile arrangement for their own personal lives have been attacked in vicious, homophobic ways by others.

Consider the case of Republican activist Arthur Finkelstein. An outspoken critic of Hillary Clinton and a campaign strategist for the Republicans, he married his partner in a low-key ceremony in Massachusetts. The publicly-registered marriage was then transformed into a homophobic attack by Bill Clinton, who accused Finkelstein of "self-loathing" for criticizing Mrs. Clinton's policies. While Libertarians strongly reject Finkelstein's politics and those of his Republican employers, the fact that both Clintons are ardent supporters of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (with Mr. Clinton signing the bill as part of his presidency) seemed to matter less to partisan Democrats than Finkelstein's sexual orientation. He was "outed" -- with Democrats who supported and implemented the nation's worst anti-gay federal law accusing him of "self-loathing" for criticizing them. Let's not even comment on the obvious hilarity of Bill Clinton criticizing the "family values" of anyone else, other than to note that he should probably be happy that he wasn't a Michigan resident during his "sojourn" with Monica Lewinsky.

Then, there's this recent Boston Globe article listing the employment of every same-sex-marriage applicant registered in 2004. Something tells us that most gay people getting married in Massachusetts are not interested in having their private details published in the media and being transformed into front page news simply because they live in a gay family. However, that's what Massachusetts' state law compels -- provision of publicly-available private information that transforms one's own relationship into a media circus.

Marriage equality under the present system cannot come fast enough. This country's GLBT community has been attacked and isolated under a system that doles out unequal treatment and odious regulations designed to redline entire households and make even basic administration of family budgets a bureaucratic nightmare.

But Americans of all walks of life won't truly be free of prying eyes and hypocritical politicians lording over our families until government is out of the marriage business altogether. At that point, every gay person, from the polyamorous to those who prefer commitment values to Clinton values, will be free.

Monday, January 15, 2007

More proof HRC is a DNC front group

Wow. Pretty airtight case that HRC has abandoned all semblance of nonpartisanship under the leadership of Joe Solmonese. I just wish Chris Crain could have written such a scathing exposé when he was running all those LGBT publications. He had a whole lot more readers then. Sadly, 99% of LGBT folks will never find out about this, thanks to the mainstream gay press.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The danger of putting Party before Principle

Chris Crain says his New Year's resolution is to get married in D.C. in 2007, but that local gay Democratic activists are standing in his way more than any elected politicians. He offers the following quote from Rick Rosendall in the Washington Blade:
"It makes no sense strategically for us to dump on the Democrats' laps a marriage bill in the first year they came back after 12 years," Rosendall said.

In other words, helping the Democrats keep a majority in Congress is more important than marriage equality.

Fortunately, most Libertarians aren't as willing as Democrats to trade LGBT equality for a little electoral success.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

40 Democrats voted to ban same-sex marriage in Massachusetts

An interesting little factoid that I had to come up with by manually counting the votes myself (since the mainstream gay press will NEVER report on something like this) is:

Of the 62 votes to advance the Massachusetts constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage (50 were required), 40 were Democrats. Only 22 were Republicans. In other words, the Republicans alone could not have advanced this amendment.

But Democrats retained unflinching support from groups like MassEquality, whose Campaign Director Marc Solomon publicly thanked Senate President Travaglini, "as Senate President he led a fair process" (Travaglini was one of the 40 votes in favor of the ban). Given this single-minded support of Democrats as the sole path to marriage equality, one would think that Massachusetts Democrats are overwhelmingly pro-equality.

They aren't.