Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Libertarian Party: "Battered Gay Voter Syndrome" Hinders Equality

Box_libertarian_party_stickers_door_hangers-2This nation's political parties are rapidly realizing that the "gay vote" matters and are stepping up their efforts to woo LGBT Americans.

National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman John Cornyn, for example, attended a Log Cabin Republican dinner this week, a first for a GOP leader, and the White House continues to insist the President opposes Don't Ask, Don't Tell, despite a DOJ objection to judicial repeal.

It's no surprise, then, that the national Libertarian Party would also throw its hat in the LGBT ring. Their attempt, based on the "battered gay syndrome" that comes with voting Democrat, deserves, and earns, a double-take.

Highlighting the Democrat-led Congress' failure on gay equality, including its inability to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act and Don't Ask, Don't Tell, for which they hold Harry Reid accountable, the Party contends that gay voters must turn their backs on the party to break "battered gay voter syndrome."

"Like abused spouses who keep returning to their aggressors, gay voters keep handing their votes to the Democrats who abuse them," opens the statement. The next line echoes tones both of ex-gay and "blame the victim" sentiments: "The Libertarian Party (LP) wants to break this self-destructive behavior and offers LGBT voters a better alternative." Subtly isn't the party's strong suit, is it?

"Unlike the Democratic and Republican Parties, the Libertarian Party believes that gays and lesbians deserve equal treatment under the law," the statement later asserts, before celebrating the party's mixed bag of inclusion: "black, white, young, old, straight, gay, Christian, atheist, yuppie, hippie, rich, poor, greedy, generous, eccentric and just plain average." It's quite a roster of adherents, yes, and one the party attempts to address with their platform's "personal relationship" clause.

"Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the  government's treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption,  immigration or military service laws," the party's platform declares. "Government does not have the authority to define, license or  restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices  and personal relationships." But political platforms don't always translate to real life, civic practice.

Many LGBT voters are rightfully angry with Democrats at the moment The Libertarians, despite their state's rights stance and "get government out" proclamations, tend to lean more right than left when it comes to what we refer to as LGBT equality.

On the matter of the Boy Scouts of America's persistent exclusion of gay scout leaders, Libertarians favor the Scouts, arguing that neither the government, nor civil society, should infringe a private, member-based organization, and their critiques of the Democratic party are right out of the Republican play book. Take a look at their DADT attack on Reid, whose "procedural no vote" they blame for this week's failed repeal. 

The Libertarians write, "Reid claims he voted for [no] procedural reasons, but the whole situation seems calculated to look like they're trying to help, while making sure they don't actually help," while the LCR blasted Reid for "playing political games with the lives of the brave gay men and women serving in our military."

There's not necessarily wrong with leaning right, or Republicans for that matter, but the Libertarians don't necessarily offer a robust alternative. Gay voters need to be asking themselves, "Are the Libertarians the way to go?" And, more to the point, is the Libertarian Party's "battered gay" approach appropriate?

One thing's for sure: the Party's angle definitely got our attention.

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  1. Another question one might want to ask before voting Libertarian (or Green or whatever): In a system that, by design, can only ever have two dominant parties, should we waste our votes on minor parties that will never be more than election spoilers and will therefore only contribute to our least preferred outcome?

    Posted by: RyanInSacto | Sep 24, 2010 1:54:25 PM

  2. It's really a mixed bag when it comes to the Libertarian Party. Some of the candidates do abide by a pure Libertarian philosophy and they apply it to issues of equality. They view that the government should either get out of the marriage business all together or that they government should recognize all valid relationships, including those of same-sex couples.

    But then again, some of their candidates only apply their Libertarianism to economic issues and continue to promote social issues from a religious-based philosophy.

    For true Libertarians who support equality, this liberal wishes you nothing but the best. For Libertarians who believe in a celestial dictator and believe we should all abide by his will, we'll see how much you can rely on a victory simply through prayer.

    Posted by: Charles | Sep 24, 2010 1:55:54 PM

  3. the problem is that lbertarians predominantly support the gop when it comes time to vote

    libertarians = repubs who smoke dope and like sex

    still no help to the GLBT community

    Posted by: | Sep 24, 2010 2:03:26 PM

  4. Most libertarians are Republicans. This seems like a ploy to help the Republican Party more than a genuine concern for, and outreach to, the gay community.

    And ANDREW, welcome to Towleroad but what's with the Republican cutesy use of "Democrat" instead of "Democratic" when speaking of the party or politics?

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Sep 24, 2010 2:05:12 PM

  5. Well, in a year that emphasizes fiscal conservatism, and no social issues coming to the fore for mainstream voters, Libertarians will have a consistent small govt. message. It would be gay rights though in a passive sense, not proactive sense. You'd get DADT repealed and DOMA repealed and a push for gay marriage, but no ENDA. No funding for AIDS either. The point remains that rhetorical support by Democrats is only going to get us so far. Actual action would be nice.

    Posted by: anon | Sep 24, 2010 2:05:44 PM

  6. Why is it presumed that this system only works with two parties? Because it happens to only have ever had two?

    Please look at Europe and get back to me. Most European democracies function with several parties/factions/coalitions. It can be done. And frankly makes more sense than to assume everyone fits perfectly into one of two categories.

    Though fair warning - having more than two dominant parties does not eliminate most of the bullshit we see in Washington on a daily basis.

    Posted by: Tyler | Sep 24, 2010 2:08:53 PM

  7. duverger's law in a plurality winner take all election system, tyler. There are exceptions, but few and far between.

    Posted by: TANK | Sep 24, 2010 2:12:40 PM

  8. If it's too good to be usually is. Thanks anyway.

    Posted by: jakeinlove | Sep 24, 2010 2:19:53 PM

  9. Good god, Gay people: DONT BE USED BY ANYONE.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Sep 24, 2010 2:21:54 PM

  10. Riiiight. Libertarians. The government that governs least governs best... so what if gays get beat up and ostracized by people. Government has no business protecting their rights and property.

    Posted by: jexer | Sep 24, 2010 2:22:12 PM

  11. anon

    libertarians also want to either gut or end social security and medicare, do not support mandatory public education, etc.

    the tea baggers r the religious nutz of the repubs

    libertarians r the fiscal nutz of the repubs

    Posted by: | Sep 24, 2010 2:24:33 PM

  12. Jexer,

    How does the LP platform imply that they don't advocate protecting gays from violence?

    Considering libertarian philosophy is based upon the principle of non-aggression, your claim is way off the mark.

    Posted by: Kyle | Sep 24, 2010 2:25:36 PM

  13. @TampaZeke: thank you! That's exactly what I was logging on to say. "Democrat-led"? You've got to be kidding me. Can the crazy talk, please, Andrew, and write like you respect your audience.

    Posted by: ohplease | Sep 24, 2010 2:26:28 PM

  14. I don't see what the gay community finds so offensive about libertarianism. I would much prefer being treated like an individual rather than a member of a group. I also prefer the "freedom is freedom" approach rather than waiting for some vote-hungry Democrat to slowly come around on issues that are critical to us. If we all voted a little more libertarian, we would be allowed to donate blood, sign contracts with our partners regarding funeral arrangements and wills, and we would be able to serve in the military without worrying that a personal trait and not conduct was sufficient grounds for dismissal.

    Posted by: Dan | Sep 24, 2010 2:28:17 PM

  15. To compare libertarians to Republicans is very misguided.

    Also, libertarianism is a pretty big-tent philosophy. You have everything from anarcho-mutualists, anarcho-capitalists, minarchists, to more moderate small government libertarians.

    Simply because Republicans sometimes use the rhetoric of libertarians, does not mean they have much in common.

    Posted by: Kyle | Sep 24, 2010 2:28:23 PM

  16. Libertarians sound great on social issues, but don't expect them to support hate crimes bills or ENDA. That would be the terrible "government intrusion" they revile.

    And the rest of their agenda? It stems from a mythical world of invisible hands, where markets only do good, corporations are benevolent forces, and government has no role protecting anyone from anything.

    Posted by: Tranquilo | Sep 24, 2010 2:28:41 PM

  17. That's right, can always hire a bodyguard, and according to libertarians, that protection would do a better job than the guvment! LOL! They, like most political parties, are based on a flawed understanding of ain't self interest...because though people might think that doing x is in their best interest, or's's really, really not...freedom usually only ever means freedom for some, and tyranny for most.

    Posted by: TANK | Sep 24, 2010 2:30:33 PM

  18. The editorializing on this story is lame. What exactly is your objection to what the Libertarians are saying? That it's not "subtle" enough?

    "The Libertarians, despite their state's rights stance and "get government out" proclamations, tend to lean more right than left when it comes to what we refer to as LGBT equality."

    Libertarians either believe that the government should get out of the marriage business altogether (civil unions for all), or that gay people should be able to marry. Barack Obama believes that gay people should not be able to get married, though straight people should. Most elected Democrats nationwide also oppose same-sex marriage.

    Posted by: Matt | Sep 24, 2010 2:35:20 PM

  19. @ TANK

    Not all libertarians are anarchists. A vast majority of them are not.

    In general, libertarians believe that the government's role is to protect life, liberty, and property. Gays are people as well, thus they should be protected by the police.

    I'm not exactly sure what's so hard to understand about that?

    Libertarians are reaching out and trying to work together on the issues that LGBTQ people agree with. I don't see how that is a problem?

    Posted by: Kyle | Sep 24, 2010 2:44:59 PM

  20. Well, not really. There are respectable libertarians who aren't anarchists, who believe that the government's role in protecting property via the means of persuasion could be replaced by private competing firms... In fact, this seems to be the conclusion of libertarian thought...whenever government isn't needed (according to them), it SHOULD be done away with. So what libertarians want to do is essentially get rid of even the image of impartial decision making...even the few laws that protect us from exploitation and discrimination...and I'm not just talking lgbt'ers and minorities.

    That, of course, stupid it's not worth taking seriously.

    Posted by: TANK | Sep 24, 2010 2:52:49 PM

  21. Better to be battered by the DEMS than be killed by the GOP posing as libertarian to seduce your vote.

    So-called libertarians are merely poseurs and spoilers.

    Posted by: candide | Sep 24, 2010 2:55:02 PM

  22. I noticed the "democrat led" text when I read this item over @ and had the same response. My experience with Libertarians goes back several years with the same enreaty: "join us, we're natural allies." Of course that ended as soon as one asks them where they stand on GLBT issues.

    Posted by: Rocco | Sep 24, 2010 2:57:49 PM

  23. Oh please. The Liberterian Party is nothing more than Republican-diet. Of course they want the LGBT vote to leave the Democrats ... and we're supposed to vote Libertarian because they're so eager to allow us to marry, get jobs, and serve the military, too? I'm not buying it. They need to target Republicans for blocking any and everything.

    Posted by: Morales | Sep 24, 2010 2:57:55 PM

  24. Libertarians are Republicans. PERIOD.

    The name they've chosen is merely a ploy like "But I'm really bisexual." IOW not actual bisexuals (who would never say such a thing) but closet-clinging gays trying to get over their self-loathing by claiming to be something other than "just gay."

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Sep 24, 2010 3:04:09 PM

  25. Democrat-bash all you want (I do, upon occasion), but it's the only party that gives us a place at the table.

    The GOP uses every ploy to peel off a few votes that equal the margin of victory.

    Better get out & support the Democrats in November. Hold your nose if you wish. You won't like it if the Republicans have their way again.

    Posted by: JONNY NYNY2FLFL | Sep 24, 2010 3:10:46 PM

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