Libertarian perspectives on LGBT rights
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|Lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender (LGBT)
Libertarian perspectives on LGBT rights illustrate how libertarian individuals and political parties have applied the libertarian philosophy to the subject of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights.
United States LGBT libertarians
The Libertarian Party's position on LGBT rights has remained unchanged since it was created in 1972. In 1975, Ralph Raico, helped to create the "Libertarian For Gay Rights" caucus within the party, and subsequently published "Gay Rights: A Libertarian Approach".
The second LGBT rights organization to operate from a libertarian perspective was the Libertarians for Gay and Lesbian Concerns. The organization held its first national convention in 1985, and sought to promote libertarianism to LGBT Americans.
During the 1980s, the organization was affiliated with the Libertarian Party of the United States. One of its activities was the production of a lavender pamphlet, to distribute at gay pride events, that explained the libertarian perspective on LGBT rights. Some of the libertarian views mentioned in the brochure are the following:
- Repeal of all laws regarding consensual sexual acts between adults (with the age of consent reasonably defined). This would include abolition of laws prohibiting prostitution and solicitation, whether gay or straight.
- Repeal of legislation prohibiting unions between members of the same sex, and the extension to such unions of all legal rights and privileges presently enjoyed by partners in heterosexual marriages.
- An end to the use of loitering statutes and entrapment procedures as a means of harassing gays and prostitutes.
- An end to the collection by government agencies of data on the sexual preferences of individuals.
- Elimination of regulations specifying homosexuality as a justification for denying or revoking state licenses (for doctors, lawyers, teachers, hairdressers, etc.).
- Repeal of laws prohibiting cross-dressing.
- Recognition of the right of a homosexual parent to be considered for custody of his or her natural child, and of the child to choose the homosexual parent as guardian.
- Elimination of laws specifying homosexuality as grounds for denying the right of adoption.
- Equality of treatment of gay people in regard to government service, including particularly membership in the armed forces.
- End the usage of zoning and loitering laws to harass gay people and gay-owned businesses.
- Equal treatment for gay immigrants.
- End government sanctioned closing of gay bathhouses.
The brochure then went onto explain that libertarians opposed efforts to prohibit private sector discrimination because people have the right to be wrong, and that peaceful persuasion was the better method to deal with prejudice than civil rights legislation.
In the 1990s this organization was joined by the classical liberal-libertarian LGBT rights organization called the Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty. As of 2007, the LGLC have a mailing address and the GLIL web page has not been updated since 2003.
The active LGBT libertarian organization is the Outright Libertarians. Founded in 1998, the organization is also affiliated with the Libertarian Party of the United States and takes many of the same position that the Libertarians for Gay and Lesbian Concerns did in the 1980s.
United States Libertarian Party
- Section 1.3 "Personal Relationships":
- 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. 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.
- Section 3.5 "Rights and Discrimination":
- We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should not deny or abridge any individual's rights based on sex, wealth, race, color, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation. Parents, or other guardians, have the right to raise their children according to their own standards and beliefs.
United States Republicans and libertarians
Several gay Republicans or conservatives will often make libertarian arguments when writing about LGBT rights. GOProud, the Log Cabin Republicans and the Independent Gay Forum often advocate for LGBT issues in a way that illustrates some common ground between American conservatives and libertarians.
For example, writers at the Independent Gay Forum endorsed the Libertarian Party and LGBT Libertarian organization's position that the Boy Scouts of America should be free to exclude gay men as scouts and scoutmasters on the grounds that the government has no right to interfere with private organizations' views on homosexuality. Likewise, the Log Cabin Republicans have endorsed the libertarian perspective in opposing federal hate crime legislation.
Yet, such conservative LGBT organizations also differ with the libertarian perspective. One example is The Log Cabin Republicans' support of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. GOProud, however, takes no stance on ENDA and opposes hate-crime legislation.
United States Democrats and libertarians
There is a libertarian organization within the Democratic Party, called the Democratic Freedom Caucus. The blog, The Daily Kos, launched a "libertarian Democrat" movement, an effort by liberal Democrats to reach out to libertarians (and Libertarian Party members) on areas of perceived common ground, including support of civil liberties and support for equal treatment for LGBT people under the law.
United States state Libertarian Party chapters
In 1992 conservative activists in Colorado placed Amendment 2 on a statewide ballot. The amendment would have prohibited the local or state government from passing civil rights legislation, including laws regarding gays and lesbians. As this amendment would have included the private and public sector, the Colorado Libertarian Party did not take a position on the amendment because the party does not believe the government has the right to dictate what a private organization can and can not do in regards to views on sexual orientation. However, libertarians would oppose government sponsored or sanctioned sexual orientation based discrimination The amendment was struck down by the United States Supreme Court in 1996.
In 2000 the Vermont Supreme Court ordered the state to provide civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to the legalization of gay marriage. The court ruling prompted the lone Libertarian legislator in Vermont, Neil Randall, to side with the conservatives that made an unsuccessful attempt to impeach the justices for their ruling. The Vermont Libertarian Party endorsed civil unions and revoked its previous endorsement of the state legislator who went on to be elected as a Republican.
In 2001 California voters passed a ballot measure that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The California Libertarian Party officially opposed the ballot initiative, and supports both homosexual and heterosexual marriage.
The Liberal Alternative party states: "We wish to make marriage a private affair, whether religious or not, composed simply of two consenting adults, without regard for sex, and with no further obligation beyond going to the local magistrate/city hall to notify the state about the union. This form of civil union would replace the PACS symbolically. Recognition of marriage is, of course, possible."
Libertarianz state in their platform that the party "fully supports the concept of a civil union and would also support allowing marriages between same sex couples, and indeed polygamous marriages or marriages between people who are already related—in all cases as long as all parties are adults and consenting."
- Walter Wheeler
- Gay and Lesbian Center - GLBT Archival Collections - SFPL.org
- Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty
- revolution: libertarian groups
- Platform of the Libertarian Party
- Independent Gay Forum - Scouting for Answers
- Defending the Constitution
- Protecting Gay & Lesbian Families
- Daily Kos: The Libertarian Dem
- Colorado's Amendment 2 against gays, lesbians & bisexuals
- Vermont Libertarian Party
- State Report VT 2: Second Vermont Report [ Free State Project - Liberty in Our Lifetime ]
- Libertarian Party of California
- Libertés individuelles
- Libertarianz - Civil Unions
- Official Libertarian Party position on LGBT equality
- LBGT libertarians
- Gay Republicans That Invoke Libertarian Principles
- Lavender But Not Pink 
- Gay Rights: A Libertarian Approach, PDF version of the 1975 pamphlet by Ralph Raico.
- Outright Libertarians response to Wikipedia articles
- "Don't Ask, Don't Tell - Don't Go" by Justin Raimondo - argues GLBT people should oppose anyone joining the military, rather than campaigning for the right of GLBT people to enlist