Thursday, January 05, 2012

Ron Paul's and the gays...

Amongst many of my gay friends (lesbians, not so much), there is a push to argue that Ron Paul is “gay friendly.”
I believe this is for two reasons: 1. There are a lot of conservative (economically) gay men who are looking for someone to champion who doesn’t carry the socially conservative anti-gay baggage for whom Ron Paul seems a natural choice. 2. There is an unstated assumption that if someone is not actively anti-gay (a la Santorum), then s/he is “pro-gay”. 
The second is the issue I would like to address here.
Ron Paul is not “pro-gay”. Ron Paul is a Federalist (I wouldn’t even call him a Libertarian for reasons better explained here). What this means is that Ron Paul is against Federal legislation that infringes upon personal liberties--including the liberty to define marriage as one sees fit.
However, and it is a big however, he not only believes states should be allowed to decide for themselves what marriage is without having to recognize the marriages legally entered into in other states (which, an argument can be made, violates the tenth section of article 1 of the Constitution—but that’s another discussion).  He supports (ironically) the Federal Defense of Marriage Act at the Federal level which specifically grants states the right to refuse to recognize my marriage in Iowa, and prohibits the Federal Government from recognizing it as well.
An argument could be made that the Federal Government has no right to recognize marriage at all—that would be strict libertarianism. However, Ron Paul does not make that argument. He instead explicitly endorses States which deny recognition of marriage equality and a law which prohibits the federal government from recognizing it. This seems the opposite of Federalism which would have the federal government recognize any state issues marriage contract.
Dr. Paul has written regarding anti-sodomy laws,This is why I say that Dr. Paul is a Federalist, and not a libertarian. While his buzzword is “liberty” his belief in ultimate liberty seems to end at the State. He is not someone who believes in the ultimate liberty of the individual to decide for himself—at least in anything non-economic.   I cannot see how it is somehow “pro-gay” to say that while the Federal Government may not infringe upon my rights, the State government can, and should, do so.
...there clearly is no right to privacy nor sodomy found anywhere in the Constitution. There are, however, states’ rights — rights plainly affirmed in the Ninth and Tenth amendments. Under those amendments, the State of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like sex, using its own local standards. But rather than applying the real Constitution and declining jurisdiction over a properly state matter, the Court decided to apply the imaginary Constitution and impose its vision on the people of Texas.

He argues, often, that we should not consider ourselves as part of “groups” but instead as individuals. Using the example of his treatment of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, he wrote, That argument, it seems to me, is solely academic. He points to a law that is discriminatory in nature against a group of people (LGBT) but then says that it’s not about a group it’s about individuals. This may make sense academically, but in practical terms, it does not. Moreover, recently, Dr. Paul said that Rick Santorum was “[Santorum] very confused …” in regards to saying the Constitutional right to privacy doesn’t exist in regards to birth control and Griswold v. Connecticut. Dr. Paul goes on to say, Holding these two positions simultaneously seems contradictory to me—there IS a right to privacy that protects a person’s right to have consensual sex with contraception, but NOT a right to privacy that protects a person’s right to have non-vaginal consensual sex. If the SCOTUS decided Griswold correctly, which they did, then they also decided Lawrence correctly. They are the same argument—Lawrence holds that, By claiming that it is about individual liberties and not about groups, but simultaneously saying that Griswold is correct and Lawrence is incorrect, Dr. Paul tips his hand—he supports a state law which discriminates against a group (only homosexual sodomy was banned thus affecting only that group) but is against one which affects individuals (contraception between hetero or homosexuals under Griswold, however redundant homosexual contraception might be).
I think ['Don't Ask, Don't Tell'] is a decent policy... [If] there is homosexual behavior in the military that is disruptive, it should be dealt with. But if there's heterosexual sexual behavior that is disruptive, it should be dealt with. So it isn't the issue of homosexuality. It's the concept and the understanding of individual rights. If we understood that, we would not be dealing with this very important problem.
If property rights and individual liberty and the Fourth Amendment [do not] protect privacy, what does the Fourth Amendment do?
...under the Equal Protection Clause, moral disapproval is a legitimate state interest to justify by itself a statute that bans homosexual sodomy, but not heterosexual sodomy. It is not. Moral disapproval of this group, like a bare desire to harm the group, is an interest that is insufficient to satisfy rational basis review under the Equal Protection Clause.
When it comes down to it, Dr. Paul is not “friendly” to gays. At best, he is “un-friendly” to federal laws that are, by nature, discriminatory, but he is against them not because they are discriminatory, but because they infringe upon the state’s right to conduct the discrimination.  By allowing ourselves to be duped into thinking that Dr. Paul’s talk of “liberty” means that we should be free to do as we please, we neglect to see past the rhetoric. If implemented fully, Dr. Paul’s vision of liberty would severely restrict the personal liberties and freedoms enjoyed only by a group—LGBT individuals—in the name of the liberty of the state. The best consolation prize we are offered is the knowledge that what we’ve lost as a group, we re-gain in “states rights”.
Foot note:
  1. Before anyone brings it up, I do know that Dr. Paul voted, ultimately, to end DADT. While I give him credit for not voting against it, I still do not consider this move as “friendly”. Recognizing that the law would be repealed and joining in at the last minute in order to shore up libertarian bona-fides is not “friendly”, it is simply politics. Even he is not above that.
  2. I personally am glad that Ron Paul has the visibility he currently does. I think he has a lot of good positions, and will do the Republican party a lot of good in regaining relevancy and changing the debate in both parties. This does not mean, however, that I agree with all of his positions.  He is someone for whom I, thankfully, must evaluate position by position.  It would do all of us well to do so with all politicians and Ron Paul's entry in this debate in a meaningful way forces us to do so.


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