Outright Libertarians is an association of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other self-identified "queer" (LGBTQ) Libertarian Party activists and supporters. We welcome anyone who believes in individual liberty and personal responsibility, and who wishes to actively promote Libertarianism to all those who love differently.
After a brief hiatus, Outright Libertarians is continuing its blogging series on Libertarian Party Presidential Candidates. This month, we are focusing on Austin Wade Peterson.
Austin Wade Peterson, age 34, is a businessman, online publication publisher, political commentator, activist, and self-described Constitutional Libertarian. He has reached particular fame among libertarians, having been Director of Production at FreedomWorks, Associate Producer of Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch, and a frequent contributor on television, appearing on Fox News and Fox Business, as well as dozens of local radio shows. Peterson currently owns and operates Stonegate LLC, a media and consulting firm, and publishers the online libertarian magazine, The Libertarian Republic, which has become a powerful news source for the libertarian community and beyond.
Peterson announced his intention to seek the Libertarian Party Presidential Nomination in September of 2015, and has since set the tone for the entire race. Petersen caused controversy after he published an article titled “Why I Am Not An Anarchist”, in which he argued that a minimal amount of force in society is necessary in order to protect natural rights. Given his position on force, Petersen is opposed to the Non-Aggression Principle, pitting himself against four decades worth of conventional wisdom within the Libertarian Party. Other Libertarian Party Presidential candidates have attempted to capitalize on this distinction by characterizing Petersen as a “celebrity candidate”, rather than a dyed-in-wool Libertarian.
Peterson is no stranger to the LGBTQ community. He has demonstrated for and provided Libertarian outreach at Pride events for many years. Petersen says that his political positions stem from his desire to be compassionate to all individuals, including our community. He admits that he is unfamiliar with some issues that are important to Outright, particularly trans issues regarding legal gender determination, but maintains that he is a strictly against government interference in the free exercise of the individual’s desire to self-identify.
Petersen received high marks on every other aspect of our candidate questionnaire. He applauds the recent SCOTUS decision on marriage equality, regarding it as necessary and proper for allowing individuals to pursue their own happiness. He does not believe that marriage should be defined or regulated by any government institution. He believes in the power of markets for promoting social change, and calls for the repeal of every victimless crime that impacts our community. Under his Presidency, Petersen would institute a policy in which Americans can privately sponsor refugees from countries such as Syria, where homosexuals are being persecuted and murdered. Through these policies, Petersen is hopeful that his Presidency can set the tone, not just for LGBTQ rights in America, but for human rights around the world.
We libertarians think it's fun to call Bernie Sanders a socialist, but he really isn't one. He's not even a democratic socialist. He is a social democrat. There are important distinctions in these definitions (italics by me for emphasis):
Democratic socialism: a political ideology advocating a democratic political system alongside a socialist economic system, involving a combination of political democracy (usually multi-party democracy) with social ownership of the means of production.
Social democracy: a political ideology that supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a capitalist economy, and a policy regime involving welfare state provisions, collective bargaining arrangements, regulation of the economy in the general interest, redistribution of income and wealth, and a commitment to representative democracy.
This month we are shining the spotlight on another candidate seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination for President: Marc Allan Feldman, MD, MHS. We offered Feldman our very own questionnaire designed to assess Libertarian candidates on LGBTQ issues.
Marc Allan Feldman, age 56, is a physician by trade currently residing in a suburb of Cleveland, OH. Prior to discovering the Party of Principle in 2009, Feldman dismissed politics as a corrupt system that ultimately favored powerful special interests. He expresses sympathy with non-voters, admitting that he himself was not registered to vote until age 50. Today, Feldman believes the technological environment is ripe for a new kind of politics. “Political campaigning is communication. The cost of mass communication has gone from millions of dollars to almost nothing”, says Feldman. Citing an impressive ad campaign from his previous run for Ohio Attorney General, Feldman believes he can leverage an effective communication strategy to win the Libertarian Party’s nomination and ultimately the Presidency.
Feldman has branded his presidential campaign with the slogan “Votes Not For Sale”. He openly sates his refusal to accept PAC, government, or corporate funds. In addition, He will only accept individual donations of up to $5. Feldman dismisses claims that a large and expensive campaign will be necessary for him to win the presidency, but rather, he views his low-cost strategy as an asset. Feldman knows that supporters of truly limited government are able to follow the money and discover when a candidate is simply pandering on behalf of special interests. By keeping costs low and donations at a minimum, Feldman believes he can keep his focus on people and the issues that matter to them.
Feldman purposely chooses to broaden his appeal in his campaign communications. “There is nothing wrong with going to the traditional liberty-oriented groups that support second amendment rights, marriage equality, and marijuana legalization. But a very low cost campaign allows me to focus on much broader messages of cutting spending, balancing the budget, and getting the corrupting influence of big money out of political campaigns.” says Feldman. Our questionnaire does not downgrade candidates for taking this approach; rather, it is an opportunity for candidates to explain how their strategy helps the cause of LGBTQ liberation. Fortunately, Feldman received a perfect score and answered all questions both satisfactory and eloquently. Feldman takes a solid Libertarian stand on issues ranging from marriage equality, to gender determination and queer refugee rights.
When asked how he viewed the FDA’s role in shaping HIV policy, Feldman answered that he would like to see the incentive system shift from money and politics to data and outcomes. He believes this can be achieved by putting the FDA in competition with efforts in the private sector.
Feldman challenges the concept of a “victimless crime”, stating that a crime cannot possibly exist when there is no victim. For this reason, Feldman believes activities such as sex-work, panhandling, feeding the homeless, and using the “wrong bathroom”, are not grounds for police, prison or court jurisdiction.
When asked how his administration would treat famous whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, Feldman answered that he would like to see the former tried and sentenced according to U.S. law, and ultimately pardoned and offered a position in his administration. As for Manning, Feldman would offer her clemency and drastically reduce her sentence and punishment.
Outright Libertarians is happy to say that Marc Allan Feldman recieved the first perfect score on our questionaire. We hope other Libertarian Presidential Candidates continue his winning streak!
This month we are shining the spotlight on another candidate seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination for President: Cecil Ince. We offered Cecil our very own questionnaire designed to assess Libertarian candidates on LGBTQ issues.
Cecil Ince, age 39, is an actor and business owner currently residing in Irving, Texas. He describes himself as a “Jeffersonian Libertarian”, advocating for extremely limited government and maximum personal liberty of the people. Ince takes a number of solidly Libertarian positions across the board, such as favoring a non-interventionist foreign policy, opposing the Patriot Act, opposing fiat currency and The Federal Reserve system. Despite his libertarian credentials, he is far from reaching his goal. Ince has a Rally.org page set up with the intent of raising $25,000, but has only raised a fraction of that amount. Nevertheless, he is determined to rally Libertarian supporters and sympathizers in order to solidify his candidacy.
Personal and social liberty issues are far from being a small aspect of Cecil’s campaign platform. In his most recent blog posting, titled “Moral Force”, Ince rails against those who seek government approval for their beliefs, as well as those who use the power of the state to forcibly condemn those whose lifestyles they oppose. “The issue isn’t who is right and who is wrong, it’s about forcing everyone to believe how they believe. As is the case of discrimination regardless if the target is being discriminated because of race, religion or sexual orientation, being refused a wedding or denied to rent an apartment for any reason is an individual's freedom of belief,” says Ince. He goes on to condemn the 2008 “act of democracy against the minority”, in California known as Proposition 8, and support the recent Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, overturning state marriage bans and ensuring the freedom to marry nationwide.
Given Cecil’s stated commitment to liberty and equality of rights for LGBTQ individuals, we at Outright Libertarians found him to be the perfect candidate for our newly minted questionnaire. Cecil received high marks for questions ranging from the right of transgender individuals to self-identify on state documents, to eliminating bans on sex-work, “wrong bathroom” usage, and other victimless crimes that disproportionately affect our community. Despite a couple vague responses and a passing mention to “Restore State’s Rights”, we at Outright Libertarians would be more than comfortable supporting a Cecil Ince Presidential candidacy should he receive the Libertarian Party’s nomination.
Despite the rainy start to the day, we gave Outright Libertarians‘ new “World’s Gayest Political Quiz” to over 250 people at the NYC LGBT Pride Festival. When we ran out of those, we switched back to the standard “World’s Smallest Political Quiz” published by the Advocates for Self-Government. As is usually the case at Pride events, the crowd split between the Left-Liberal and Libertarian quadrants, with a cluster of strong Libertarians due to the self-selection bias of who walks up to a Libertarian booth at a street fair. As Outright Libertarians usually does in its Operation Politically Homeless booths, we used metal foil stars to indicate the quiz scores on the map, with Gold being Libertarian, Silver being Independent, Green being Green, Blue being Democrat, and Red being Republican. While we had a run of Blue stars like usual at Pride, we used more Silver stars than ever. Hear that, Libertarian candidates? Independents are, politically, what they call “low-hanging fruit.”
A heartfelt thank-you to Alex, Richard, and Alton for volunteering at the booth.
The fight for liberty for GSM (Gender & Sexual Minority) individuals has come a long way since the birth of the Libertarian Party in 1971. After the Supreme Court of the United States ruling last month, the GSM community and our Libertarian allies have been celebrating a hard-fought victory. Though the battle for marriage equality is won, the war against government involvement in marriage in far from over. And what of the other challenges facing the community? Jury nullification has been proposed as a possible solution.
Thanks in large part to the efforts of the Fully Informed Jury Association, many Libertarians are aware of jury nullification and the role of conscientious acquittal as a form of citizen’s veto over unjust law. What is far less well-understood is what a powerful tactic this can be for marginalized people, who are easy for prosecutors to demonize in front of a jury that is typically not truly their peers. Playing on stereotypes that arise from culture and class warfare - and together with the real-world impact of social stigmas and lived experience of disprivilege –totally harmless non-criminal people can find themselves incarcerated.
For example, trans* individuals know better than government what their needs are. A single trans* person or ally can use nullification to shield a defendant like Monica Jones from prosecution for the victimless crime of ‘walking while trans*'. This is just one of many examples of criminalized behaviors that disproportionately impact GSM people, for which repeal is unlikely to come soon. Until we achieve full abolition of institutionalized heterosexism, we can use nullification as a shield against the aggression of the state.
If you’re interested in learning more about this subject and its application in the context of LGBT liberation, Outright Libertarians and Fully Informed Jury Association have been working together for the past couple of months, putting together the material for an online discussion group entitled "Queering The Jury: Taking Back Decriminalization". Join us this Saturday, July 18, 2015 at 1pm Pacific to learn about this powerful tactic and why it's so important for liberation activists to participate as jurors.
Over at Reason.com, Scott Shackford asks if victory over marriage equality is where libertarians and the LGBTQ community part ways. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Outright has looked well beyond the day when marriage equality became a nationally guaranteed right. In fact, marriage equality is only the beginning. While Shackford acknowledges that there are still areas of agreement between Libertarians and the LGBTQ community, he omits far too many areas where government coercion is still harming our community:
· Abolish mandatory gender binary tracking and remove gender from federal documents. Shackford is correct that it shouldn’t matter to the government why somebody identifies as transgender. I will add that it shouldn’t matter to the government how and why individuals identify at all. Individual rights transcend gender and sexuality. It is an affront to liberty to be forced into an outdated and unscientific gender binary system.
· Grant asylum to persecuted LGBTQ individuals. We’ve made exceptional strides toward securing our rights here in the United States, elsewhere is a far different story. We cannot stand idly while our siblings fleeing countries such as Russia and Uganda are thrown in immigration detention centers or deported back to face their death sentences.
· Prohibit forced interventions; such as gender conversion therapies for minors Children have every right to self-identification just as adults do. Forced conversion therapy is a travesty to liberty, as well as fraud and medical malpractice. We must fight to ban such practices for minors, and allow the right of emancipation for children in non-affirming homes.
· Repeal Federal and State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA), and allow freedom of contract between LGBTQ and religious business owners/patrons Government should be no more or less inclined to burden religious liberty than it would other peaceful secular activities between private parties. The right of a business owner to deny service should not be limited to a religious basis. Religious freedom does not mean refusing to uphold one’s end of a contract.
· Legalize sex work Laws against sex work disproportionately affect our community. Every day, sex workers are locked up and thrown into prisons where they face abuse not limited to rape and murder.
· Allow HIV+ patients any chosen medical care This includes a full repeal on the ban against blood donations from gay men. Replacing a lifetime ban with a one-year waiting period is no more warranted and no less homophobic.
· Allow hate victims to defend themselves Many non-violent offenders are denied the right to own and carry a firearm. Minority communities such as immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ and sex workers are among the most affected. Liberty includes the right to self-defense, especially for the weakest among us.
Many other areas of government coercion against LGBTQ individuals still exist and often overlap with other libertarian priorities; For instance, we should allow the option of school choice for children who face bullying in the public school system. Also, there are still areas in the public sector that still have discrimination written into law, including but not limited to employment, housing, military service, and adoption. So no, this is definitely not where libertarians part ways with the LGBTQ community. Our long-standing tradition of radical liberation continues.