I am not a purist libertarian. I don’t say things like “End The State”, or “Abolish (insert massively entrenched political institution here)”. This is not because I believe society won't be better off without these overbearing agents of the state, but because this macho-flash style libertarianism does nothing to address the vast injustices inflicted upon Americans now. Issues like marriage inequality, police militarization, the war on drugs, and mass incarceration, all of which disproportionately affect minority and LGBT citizens, are in my mind the most commonly dismissed, and yet most easily fixable issues. Macho-flash libertarians like to dismiss practical solutions to these issues and will instead deliver all-or-nothing, end-the-state mantras that are beyond impractical. Their tactics have nearly driven me out of the movement, until I am reminded that practical libertarian solutions exist to make people freer.
When Gary Johnson ran for President under the Libertarian Party banner in 2012, he brought a much-needed sense of balance to a party gripped by fringe elements. Unlike his predecessor in 2008, Johnson remained consistent in his support for both social and economic freedom. When asked about his stance on the issue of marriage equality, Johnson does not do the conservative shuffle and leave the issue to the states, nor does he pull the libertarian macho-flash by insisting that the government should just get out of the marriage altogether. Rather, Johnson makes no mistake that he supports equal rights for LGBT individuals. He is also unambiguous and firm in his support for civil liberties issues such as ending the war on drugs, repealing the Patriot Act. While Johnson is far from the perfect Libertarian candidate, I would feel much better about compromising a couple percentage point increases on a tax rate, or leaving a few military bases open, but I cannot support someone who lacks the simple dignity of acknowledging equal rights for all people. This is why I cannot vote for even the most libertarian Republican within the current field of candidates running for President.
The status of liberty is determined less by the size of the state and more by society’s respect for individual rights. Of course, scaling back the state is usually the appropriate means to protect people’s rights, but the emphasis should always be on rights. While I can understand choosing a pragmatic approach over ideological purism in a high stakes election, my support for Gary Johnson is based on anything but purism. If now is any indication, I will have irreconcilable disagreements with every major-party Presidential candidate in 2016, disagreements that go against what I believe to be basic respect for the rights of the individual. Through my experience listening and speaking with Gary Johnson, I know he is the kind of libertarian who cares about individual rights, and determines his political strategy on that foundation.
We've taken some criticism from people who take the Indiana RFRA at face value, assuming that because it claims to stand for religious freedom, anybody who opposes it is in favor of the enslavement of bakers and florists. This could not be farther from the truth - it is possible to oppose both bigotry, and bad law, and still be libertarian. In fact, we feel it is a moral imperative to do so!!
Bigotry is not "speech". Its source is the heart and mind, not the voice. If we feel that liberty is worth our efforts to persuade and enlighten, why not issues of social stigma as well? It's irrational to leap from freedom of association to a pro-bigotry stance. They represent two very different organizing principles.
The market is proving its power to solve a problem the state created in Indiana. We should be pointing to that and saying "We told you so", not taking the wrong side and shilling for bigots. Unfortunately, many of our allies in the libertarian movement bring with them a vulnerability to deceptive right-wing rhetoric. This attempt to cloak an establishment of religion in "freedom" is one of those times.
There seems to be a lot of confusion among libertarians on how to handle the issue of marriage equality from a uniquely libertarian standpoint. Some suggest that the struggle to remove government from our personal lives requires more than equal marriage rights for same sex couples – I agree with them. Others adopt the all-or-nothing approach of opposing marriage equality now in favor of abolishing state marriage altogether – I disagree with these people.