Libertarian Party: “Battered Gay Voter Syndrome” Hinders Equality

"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.


  1. RyanInSacto says

    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?

  2. says

    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.

  3. says

    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

  4. TampaZeke says

    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?

  5. anon says

    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.

  6. Tyler says

    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.

  7. jexer says

    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.

  8. says


    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

  9. Kyle says


    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.

  10. ohplease says

    @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.

  11. Dan says

    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.

  12. Kyle says

    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.

  13. Tranquilo says

    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.

  14. TANK says

    That’s right, kyle…you 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 man…it ain’t self interest…because though people might think that doing x is in their best interest, or not…it’s not…it’s really, really not…freedom usually only ever means freedom for some, and tyranny for most.

  15. Matt says

    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.

  16. Kyle says

    @ 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?

  17. TANK says

    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, is…so stupid it’s not worth taking seriously.

  18. Rocco says

    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.

  19. Morales says

    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.

  20. says

    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.”

  21. says

    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.

  22. ratbastard says

    There is much admirable about Libertarian thought; but voting for a Libertarian politician is pointless in our (American) political system. The Dems and Reps have it locked down, at least at the national level. I’m afraid part of the problem for gays is we are just not a large enough group to really make a difference except in local elections, even then that’s questionable. Gays in general are not ghettoized and many, most, do not at least publicly identify as gay, so it’s difficult to gauge accurate demographic figures and potential. The major parties like the $ contributions, etc., but will always place gays on the back burner compared to other minority groups such as Hispanics, whom both main parties are obsessed with because of their present ability to swing an election and future projected demographics. As far as minorities are concerned, neither main political party is really concerned with either gays or African Americans because neither can swing an election except locally here and there, compared to, for example, Hispanics.

  23. Joe says

    Libertarians should fundamentally be for Harry Reid’s procedural vote as it stops federal officials from attaching unnecessary amendments. Their stance make them Republicans in disguise.

  24. BobN says

    Feeling “battered”, are you?

    Don’t like being able to marry in five states?

    Don’t like civil unions and domestic partnerships in the other states where you can get one?

    Not a fan of hate-crime laws?

    Second thoughts about that kid you legally adopted?

    EVERY SINGLE RIGHT we have as gay people has come to us thanks to the votes of Democratic politicians and officials.

    Wanna switch to Libertarian? Go ahead, AFTER they do something for you.

  25. Dave says

    Hiring a Republican or a Libertarian (a closet Republican who likes to smoke pot and have sex with people outside of the confines of marriage or within their sex) is like hiring a person that comes into your office for a position in management and say’s something like “This is a nice business you have here. I’ve done my research and see that you’ve grown it at a respectable 10% every year since your father began it nearly fifty years ago. My vision for the organization is take out a big loan based on your excellent credit, fire all customer service and other “non-essential employees,” go golfing daily with you and the executives, take a retreat to study Six Sigma in Hawaii and tell our customers that they are number one.. of course you and I realize that they actually number two. So when do I start?”

  26. missanthrope says

    “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.”

    Libertarians also believe that it’s just fine if your employer fires you for being gay and if it were up to them, you’d be left without any sort of legal recourse if your boss did that.

    Nice guys.

  27. Atlanta Guy says

    @Tyler: The reason European countries often have multiple parties is that they are usually parliamentary systems in which the “government” (what we would consider the executive branch, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet) is selected by the legislature (the parliament) from its own ranks. Therefore you can vote for an MP from, say, the Green party knowing that while Greens may never be able to form a majority government, they will occasionally be able to form a governing coalition with similarly progressive parties and have a voice in government. But under our system of separated branches, the executive is elected by the people (more or less) and therefore “governing coalitions,” so to speak, must be formed among the electorate in the form of parties that can realistically hope to capture the majority vote on a reasonably regular basis. And that means only two parties can ever be viable at the same time. (This is why neither party in the US will ever be ideologically “pure” and still capture the White House, Tea Baggers’ wet dreams notwithstanding.) It is all about the executive because that’s where the power is. And as long our President is elected by the voters (again, more or less) we will have a two party system.

  28. bryan says

    It’s like being courted by a pimp when approaching the end of an untenable relationship… “Come on, boy… You deserve better than that. Come work for me and I’ll give you all meth you need and we’ll make us money. You know I’ll treat you right.”

  29. Jason Young says

    I’m a libertarian and the only Republican I have ever voted for was Ron Paul. I pretty much always vote Democratic because they support equality for gay people and because they actually balance the budget. If the government is going to spend money then it should have to tax the current generation to pay for it instead of saddling future generations with debt. The Democrats have a better recent history of actually trying to balance the budget.

    I could really care less if they tax the hell out of the rich, because the vast majority (though not all) get rich through government regulations and subsidies. If the rich want to lie down with dogs, then let them get fleas.

    I will probably wind up voting Green Party in my state for most offices simply because I’m sick of the two party system. It is a protest vote but I don’t like most of the D and R candidates anyway. It’s not like there is much difference between the two parties in my state in any case. I would personally like to see a completely non-partisan voting system from dogcatcher on up, but I doubt that will ever happen.

  30. Bob R says

    @Atlanta Guy: you are not altogether correct. Congress holds greater power than the president by virtue of the fact that they control the purse strings. The Speaker of the House can actually shut the government down by not funding it’s operations. Ask Newt how that works. So the House or the Senate can send everyone funded by the government home if they want to.

    The President derives his power through use of the “bully pulpit” in that he can persuade members of Congress by appealing directly to the people to get things done (political capital). He also has the ability to strong arm (the bully part) members of his party because he is the head of the party. He can threaten them with getting no money or party support or sometimes the threat of finding a primary challenger will bring them around.

    The President has the power of the veto, but that too can be over-ridden by Congress. So the power of persuasion and the veto are his major powers to get things done. If he aggressively leads, the people and the Congress will follow.

    Now in the past 8 years the Presidency has been made more powerful because Congress has abrogated some of their power and authority to the President, they’ve also given his office powers that no President has had before via the Patriot Act. This is what the debate is over the principal of the “unitary executive”, these new and improved powers were first given to Bush, by Congress after 9/11. Obama has not reduced or given back any of those powers or authority. Nor is any future President expected to do so either.

    If the GOP captures the House in November, which all common wisdom says they will, Obama will become a lame duck and much of our government will come to a standstill. The House will pass legislation that will die in the Senate (as it does now) and if the GOP can put a majority coalition together of Republicans and Blue Dog Dems, they will be able to move their agenda. The President can check them using his veto power, but there is always the chance it will be over ridden.

    So, the President’s power stems from his ability to persuade. The House and Senate control the money that makes things happen and the Supreme Court decides if legislation is “Constitutional” based on the court’s interpretation of the Constitution. Checks and balances. Civics class over.

  31. FunMe says

    I am not voting for the “D” idiots who BETRAY us. Neither am I voting for the republiCONs ever.

    The Libertarians? I seriously doubt it.

    Besides, my money I would normally give to candidates is now going to ME. I’m going on my 2nd gay cruise in the largest ship being built as we speak.

    ZAS you freaking IDIOTS in DC!

  32. FunMe says

    Oh and for those with the “where are they going to go” or “have patience” … I am not going to reward the Democrats simply for not being republicons.

    I have 2 phrases to those blind loyal Democrats:

    Stockholm syndrome

    Battered Wife (Voter) Syndrome

  33. Con Scio says

    As long as we have at least two parties so everyone can have both people to ally with and people to fear/hate. We might as well just call it cowboys and indians for adults.

  34. David Jarrett says

    I believe that libertarians are the only way for gays like myself to go. Republicans and Democrats will tailor their comments only to get your vote and then do what their political money “contributors” want them to do. Bribes from special interest groups is how the government operates. Wake up!!!!!!!! Libertarians have an honest, consistant message, based (shockingly) on principles, not bribes.

  35. Randy says

    I would say vote Republican. If enough new Republicans are elected by slim margins, then they will realize that their election likely depends on gay votes as well, and they’ll start advancing our issues. Look at the sheer number of Republicans who are publicly supporting us now, versus just last year.

    The lock Democrats had on the gay vote has been broken by Obama, for better or worse. The times when the gay vote can be taken for granted are over.

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  37. JohnP says

    I’m gay and tend to lean quite libertarian, but most “libertarians” seem to be just rebranded republicans … and that often scares me away from voting libertarian.

  38. Lew says

    Not only are the Libs just the GOPers who smoke weed and like sex, they will give the excuse to any establishment who doesn’t want to serve gays because they choose not to. Ask them about the Seattle printer, for instance, who didn’t want to print flyers for a gay bar because it was offensive to his being. (Before you answer, the printer broke state law in doing so).

    Every few years the LGBT community has to go through this nonsense from pretenders. Practically the only thing non-Dems gays got right in recent years is suing against DADT in courts, but beyond that, they are ironically the ones who consistently return to the party that hates them.

    The Dems have been the only party that has made significant strides for LGBTs. Did we have to push them? OF COURSE! But pushing them to act is HOW YOU GET THINGS DONE. Never rest on your laurels and expect any party will work for you without your input. Always. Get. Involved.

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