Swayze: While the Institution Stands, We Stand for Equality.

First of all, I applaud Paul Gable in his post, “Gable: Marriage Equality” . I am also proud that We Are Libertarians agreed to post it at all.

He says,“Nowhere in the Constitution does it say you get those three unalienable rights ONLY if you are a heterosexual adult. And, during the Civil Rights movement, nowhere did it say you got those rights ONLY if you were a white adult. While I am not in favor of government having any sort of residency inside my house, especially, my bedroom, someone needs to tell the U.S. Supreme Court to get with the times and grant equal marriage rights to every person in this country regardless of sexual preference.”

I am happy because Libertarians seem quite divided on marriage as an institution at all. And I get it. Part of desiring a decentralized, state-strong government is letting states decide marriage. Why we should let democrats monopolize the fight is beyond me, but hey. Maybe I should start an Outright Libertarian Indiana chapter or something.

The problem is this: Do we, as libertarians, ignore potential LGBT constituents by saying, “Hey, sorry, we don’t believe in marriage as a legal institution at all?” That is what I have heard some libertarians around me say. And I get it, I do. Why is marriage an institution at all? Why should government tell anyone who to get married? And I certainly have my own bones to pick about how involved the government and courts have been in my own horrendous divorce, so I am all for government taking a step back.

But should Libertarians remain silent on LGBT issues? I think not.

I prefer to side with what the Libertarian Party posted in this 2011 press release:

“It is disgraceful that we grant government officials the power to even examine such things, let alone criminalize any peaceful conduct between consenting adults or punish them with unequal marriage, adoption, tax, or immigration laws.”

And then you have liberal political writers like Maya Rupert, who says that the only way to ensure LGBT freedom and equality is through government intervention. In her piece, “The Myth of Libertarianism and the Fight for LGBT Equality”, she says,

“True equality for the LGBT community will require government intervention.”

I don’t know. The government has done a pretty good job so far, hasn’t it? I mean, it’s not like the government isn’t denying the right of rape victims in the military a fair trial , or confiscating private property without a warrant. Or allowing slavery. Or passing DOMA. Or saying, pretty much, that you don’t have a right to bodily health or to choose what to feed your own children.

I firmly believe that creating a culture that promotes equality and justice for everyone will better safeguard freedom than any governmental measure. The government is always slower to act than society. The American government is especially slow.

Here’s what I think: If we are going to recognize marriage and provide legal benefits for it, then we open it to consenting same-sex couples just like we would heterosexual couples. If we are going to garner revenue from said licenses, wouldn’t it make sense to get more revenue and better balance the state’s budget? If the federal government is going to decide on marriage as a federal institution at all (with federal tax benefits and what-not conferred as well), shouldn’t we stand on the side of liberty? Couldn’t we say, a bit louder, “Well, we want to change the entire institution for everyone, but while it stands, we stand for equality.”

Like Gable, I stand with marriage equality, too, and look forward to the overturn of DOMA.

Contributor Lynn Swayze is a left-leaning libertarian and feminist. When she's not engaging in political discussion, she works as a freelance direct response copywriter, project manager, and marketing strategist for information marketers. Follow her on Twitter @LynnSwayze.