The ‘Unlikely’ Drug Legalization Alliance: A Model Ignored

Via the L.A. Times: “Voters in Colorado and Washington easily passed ballot initiatives — 55% to 45% in each state — to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana. … What transpired in Colorado and Washington were disciplined efforts that forged alliances between liberals and tea party conservatives, often using public health arguments to advance their cause.”

In those states, drug legalization activists recognized that small government (or even anti-government) tea party activists could be allies in seeking to protect individual liberty against an overreaching state, even in areas in which the government has been overreaching for decades.

We don’t see this tactic in the fight for marriage equality, however. One reason is that the government power issue is not as clear cut – we want to stop the federal government from telling states they can’t recognize same-sex marriages, and from actively discriminating against same-sex couples. On the other hand, some gay marriage advocates clearly would like the federal government to tell states they must recognize same-sex marriage, which may be defensible as a civil rights matter but is less likely to resonate among tea party conservatives.

Still, I and others of a libertarian bent have long sought more dialogue among tea party people and the gay-equality movement. A big reason that this has not occurred is that many progressive LGBT activists have joined with their compatriots on the left in thoroughly demonizing tea party types and conflating them with the religious right (of which there is some overlap, but not nearly to the extent that progressives have portrayed). In other words, if your political agenda as an LGBT activist is bigger and more intrusive government, economic redistribution to favored political classes, and higher taxes on wealth producers (that is, the Tammy Baldwin/Elizabeth Warren dream world), then seeking to work with libertarians in the tea party movement is going to be a non-starter from the get go.

More. Have tea party voters helped elect anti-gay religious rightists? Yes, but that’s not to say that they voted for them because of their socially conservative positions; they often seem to do so despite those positions because they see the conservatives as better on economic liberty, size-of-government issues. The current left/right partisan divide doesn’t present a clear pro-liberty option, forcing supporters of limited government to pick their poison.

Furthermore. Former Clinton advisor David Mixner, citing analysis by the Cato Institute’s Walter Olson, notes that Republican crossover votes were a key factor in the Maryland gay marriage victory, and that “in some very key counties it was clear that those who voted for Mitt Romney overwhelmingly also ended up supporting marriage equality.”

Progress is possible when Repubicans aren’t simply written off. But that requires gay alliances to break free from the control of Democratic party operatives whose goal is to turn them into party front (and fundraising) groups.

Still more thoughts on the future of the GOP from David Boaz. And from a “lonely college Republican.”

A GOP strategist asks, “Why should we sign a suicide pact with the National Organization for Marriage?”

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30 Comments for “The ‘Unlikely’ Drug Legalization Alliance: A Model Ignored”

  1. posted by Jimmy on

    The fourth paragraph alone contains enough partisan buzzwords to make the assertion that real dialogue is somehow being sought completely laughable and phony. If you want to make nice, you need to come correctly.

  2. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Have tea party voters helped elect anti-gay religious rightists? Yes, but that’s not to say that they voted for them because of their socially conservative positions; they often seem to do so despite those positions because they see the conservatives as better on economic liberty, size-of-government issues.

    Stephen, I think that this is an appropriate time to insert a fact into this discussion.

    Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll, July 25-Aug. 5, 2012, broke down support/opposition to marriage equality by political party and by political party clusters among Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

    In response to the question “Do you think it should be LEGAL or ILLEGAL for gay and lesbian couples to get married?”, Tea Party Republicans expressed a higher rate of oppostion (94%) to marriage equality than any other cluster, even “religious value voters” Republicans (84%). To see the results, go to this link, then click on “Show results by political party cluster” (a drop down menu choice to the right of “Show results by”).

    The Washington Post/Kaiser poll is consistent with other polls since 2010 showing very high levels of opposition to marriage equality among Tea Party adherents.

    I suspect that it is a mistake to confuse Tea Party Republicans with libertarians.

  3. posted by Houndentenor on

    Hilarious. I’m sure there must be somewhere in this country where the tea party and the religious right are not the exact same people but I have yet to meet anyone in this part of the country who is a tea partier but a social liberal or libertarian. Not one. I understand that the original idea of the tea party was supposed to be about economic and not social issues. But as soon as tea party candidates took over state legislatures their first priorities were obviously concerning social issues. That’s just how it is and wishing it were different changes nothing.

  4. posted by Carl on

    Remember who gave the “Tea Party” rebuttal to SOTU?

    Our old friend Michelle B.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/01/25/sotu.response.bachmann/index.html

    The idea that the Tea Party will ever, ever, ever support a candidate beyond dog catcher who is not anti-gay is something I rarely see in reality.

  5. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Still, I and others of a libertarian bent have long sought more dialogue among tea party people and the gay-equality movement.

    Stephen, this sentence caught my attention.

    Aren’t you “and others of a libertarian bent” part of the “gay-equality movement”?

    If the next task looming in the “gay-equality movement” is to bring the Republican Party to its senses on marriage equality, wouldn’t the best place to start the dialog with Tea Party Republicans be a discussion between Republicans of a libertarian bent and Tea Party Republicans?

    It seems to me that this work might be, finally, starting among Republicans of a libertarian bent.

    After years of ignoring the issue of marriage equality (opining that it was an issue for the states, but taking no position pro or con), it looks like GOProud might be moving toward embracing marriage equality.

    Jimmy LaSalvia seems to have come around to the position that Republican candidates should embrace marriage equality in the future, anyway, and that might translate into GOProud support in the next few months.

    If GOProud, which seems to be of a libertarian bent, comes around, it seems to me that a door has opened for the beginning of a dialog within the Republican Party.

    Whether and when that dialog bears fruit is not for me to predict.

  6. posted by TomJeffersonIII on

    1. If you want to see libertarian policies put into practice then support the Libertarian Party or the Ayn Rand Party. In a two party system, major parties are not set up to advance a narrow, possibly loony, ideology.

    2. I am not a slut, mind you, not none of the ‘progressive gay activist’ I have known or volunteer with have totally rejected the idea of working with anyone that will actually be helpful and productive to the gay rights movement. Here in Minnesota, we managed to defeat an anti-gay amendment because we had people of different faith communities, urban folk, rural folk, suburan folk, gay, straight, bi, trans, men, women, young, old, working class, middle class, poor, wealthy, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Greens, Libertarians as well as several different clubs, groups and organizations across the State.

    3. I SUSPECT that would frustrates gay progressive activists is when”we’ (I would consider myself to be progressive, although I also agree with conservatives on issues) are told my our gay Republican friends not to ignore folks (GOP/Tea Party) or worship a single party government. It takes two people to communicate and, with some notable exceptions, I never had much luck in getting Tea Partiers or conservative Republicans to have that conversation with me.

    4. Their are several different Tea Party interest groups, each claiming to be the one, true, religion (as it were) and maybe I dealt with different Tea Partiers then you. The ones I dealt with tend to be to VERY REACTIONARY about gay rights issues and also tend to believe that Obama is really a Muslim-Atheist and are not above using the ‘N-word’ to describe him.

    5. I have mixed views on all things “going to pot”, but the real issue here might be Federal law and dealing with law and order types who, ya know, vote and stuff.

  7. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Former Clinton advisor David Mixner, citing analysis by the Cato Institute’s Walter Olson, notes that Republican crossover votes were a key factor in the Maryland gay marriage victory, and that “in some very key counties it was clear that those who voted for Mitt Romney overwhelmingly also ended up supporting marriage equality.”

    As the Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington data are analyzed, I will be very curious to see which Republicans voted pro-equality.

    I don’t have the necessary exit polling data to do an analysis, but my semi-informed guess is that the pro-equality vote came primarily from three Republican political clusters: (1) “moderate” Republican voters (identified in the WP/Kaiser poll as “Old School Republicans”), that is, Republican voters who are not religious conservatives or Tea Party adherents, (2) younger Republican voters of all political clusters, and (3) individual Republican voters who have a close relationship (family or friend) with a gay or lesbian.

    That is the pattern among Republicans I know in the area of rural Wisconsin where I live, anyway, and those are the Republican voters we will be counting on when Wisconsin’s anti-marriage amendment comes up for repeal, if it ever does.

    In Wisconsin, the problem is not going to be repealing the amendment if we get it to a vote. By the time we get to the ballot, the small majority now in favor of repeal will be a large majority (to get repeal on the ballot, we need to get it through the legislature in two consecutive sessions, so it will be five years, at a minimum, before we can get repeal on the ballot). So the repeal vote itself is a no-brainer, if we can get to a vote.

    The problem is getting repeal on the ballot at all. To do that, we are going to need to hold Democratic majority or near-majority in both the Senate and the Assembly for two consecutive terms. We won’t get much help from the Republican side of the aisle, as things now stand, because only a handful of “moderate” Republicans were left standing after the Tea Party tsuimai of 2010, and that handful is not ready to buck Republican leadership or Republican primary voters.

    The reason I know that is that I am in reasonably frequent contact with two of the handful, one in the Senate and one in the Assembly. I’ve known both for years, and we talk. At present, any Republican legislator who shows any moderation at all on “culture war” issues invites a brutal primary fight in the next election cycle. The experience of the “New York Four” has not been lost on moderate Republicans. Neither of my friends is willing to go through that.

    Another question that fascinates me about Minnesota is whether the vote itself, which provides hard data on constituent attitudes toward marriage equality, will have any effect on moderating the Republican Party in that state.

    According to an analysis in the Duluth News Tribune, 21 House Republicans and 8 Senate Republicans represent districts where a majority of voters opposed the constitutional restriction. Several of those districts are suburban districts west of the Twin Cities where the amendment went down by 10-20 points. How will those Republicans, who voted to put the anti-marriage amendment on the ballot, respond if and when marriage equality or marriage equivalency comes up for a vote in the legislature, as it is likely to do in the next five years?

    Progress is possible when Republicans aren’t simply written off.

    I can’t speak for other states, but in Wisconsin we have not written off Republican voters, and our advocacy organizations maintain communication with Republicans.

    I know for a fact that Fair Wisconsin’s staff is in regular contact with Republican legislators and local elected officials, and I can say with certainty that Fair Wisconsin spends more time talking with Republican elected officials in Wisconsin than either LCR or GOProud.

    Neither LCR nor GOProud has any presence in the state at all that I can find. I once asked the two Republican legislators who I speak to frequently whether they had been approached by either LCR or GoProud. Neither had heard from either group.

    I think that is the nub of the problem. Gay and lesbian Republicans aren’t doing the work that they need to do within the Republican Party.

    Stephen is quick to criticize Democrats, progressives and “left/liberals” for not doing enough to bring change to the Republican Party, but never, ever, suggests that pro-equality conservatives should get off their asses and get to work within the Republican Party.

    This post is an example. In it, Stephen calls for progressives to reach out to build an alliance between Tea Party Republicans and Republicans of a “libertarian bent”. Leaving aside the issue of whether anyone in the Tea Party would be interested in such an alliance (the available evidence suggests otherwise), shouldn’t LGBT Republicans be doing that work?

  8. posted by Gus on

    “of which there is some overlap, but not nearly to the extent that progressives have portrayed”

    In intellectual circles there is little overlap, in the real world of elected representatives in state legislatures they are Teavangelicals. Time after time the Tea Party wave of 2010 sided not with Libertarians but the Christian Right.

    • posted by Derya on

      - Good luck. Personally I am not sure on these seminars. I think it’s a way for phhopgratoers to make money (fair enough) without really sharing much information. If it was a live seminar e.g fake wedding shot from start to finish then back at the lab to see the processing side of things it might be more beneficial. Saying that, I am not sure what you have planned

  9. posted by Jorge on

    No question the potential alliance against federal government overreach is vast, as we saw when the Republicans tried to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment. But that’s a rare thing. We don’t have the federal government telling the states they cannot recognize gay marriages. We have states making unilateral decisions not to recognize gay marriages and the federal government telling them they may do as they like.

    we want to stop the federal government from. . . actively discriminating against same-sex couples

    Legislating equal treatment under the law is not at its heart a libertarian position, as I believe Ron Paul is infamous for pointing out. It is a judgment imposed by the government that one good is the same as another good. It would not be possible without the government having stepped in in the first instance. Thus we have those who, to make things equal, want the government out of marriage entirely, and we have those who, to make things equal, want the government to affirmatively recognize gay marriages.

  10. posted by Doug on

    Yes the states can recognize marriage equality but the Federal government must also recognize that state right for things like income tax, social security, medicare etc etc.

    So yes the Federal government MUST also recognize the states rights or it’s not really a right.

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      Yes, which is why DOMA, or at least part of DOMA, is going to be found unconstitutional.

    • posted by Jorge on

      Yes the states can recognize marriage equality but the Federal government must also recognize that state right for things like income tax, social security, medicare etc etc.

      This is intriguing. Help me understand this one.

      I have never heard of the federal government having any authority over how state income taxes are applied.

      Social security… well New York City offers social services for people with AIDS. They ask you to use the social security disability application, but then they tell you their criteria and definitions are slightly different. So I can imagine where spousal benefits might be different. But states and municipalities have never had any decision-making power on anything related to Social Security. Retirement is another area where the federal and local governments differ. Some government professions allow–or require–you to retire before 65, but you can’t college the same Social Security benefits. Instead you get a fat pension. This is the way it is, with or without same-sex marriage being thrown into the mix.

      So that leaves Medicare. This the state does administer, based on funds provided to it by the federal government. And the model that’s analagous to same-sex marriage is very simple: the Hyde amendment. Under Roe vs. Wade, the states may have differential laws on abortion than the federal government, and the federal government cannot order the states to apply one or another. However, the federal government can tell the states “We’re gonna give money to you, and you CANNOT use any of it for abortion.” The Hyde Amendment was upheld by the Supreme Court. The federal government has placed restrictions on funding for medicaid and many, many other things for years, regardless of whether or not the states agree with their priorities. I’ll give you a nearer example: marijuana legalization. States passed medical marijuana laws some years back. It didn’t stop the Bush and Obama administrations from arresting people for breaking federal drug laws on marijuana.

      So the idea that the federal government needs to contort its own laws and “recognize” whatever the states want to recognize within their own borders is really just a perverse way of turning federalism on its head, and has nothing to do with states rights.

      • posted by Houndentenor on

        I think some of this requires a legal scholar to parse, but I do know that the Supreme Court consistently ruled against federal laws restricting what people could buy or sell inside the state up until the time it upheld federal drug laws (about 100 years ago…not sure of the date). So there’s a court case for federal drug laws that would have to be overturned. The federal government has no constitutional authority to override a state-issued marriage license. I supposed SCOTUS could rule that it did but they haven’t so far and I think the implications of doing so on future cases would make it unappealing to the conservative justices. Perhaps their homophobia will override their common sense, but if the fed can override the states on something that has never been a federal matter (and never needs to be) they can do it with anything. I don’t see conservatives wanting that, although frankly on the states rights issue both liberals and conservatives are very often hypocrites.

        • posted by Jorge on

          The federal government has no constitutional authority to override a state-issued marriage license.

          That’s good.

          Because no such allegation is being made.

          The statement Doug made is that the states have the power to override the federal government and order it to recognize same sex marriages. They do not.

          • posted by Houndentenor on

            There is no practical difference between the two. By refusing to recognize a state-issued marriage license, the federal government is overriding the state’s authority.

            I guess that’s what the court will decide soon.

      • posted by Hunter on

        I suspect the confusion is the result of some less-than-clear phrasing on Doug’s part: I think what he meant is that the federal government has always recognized for federal purposes marriages recognized by the individual states. The “federal purposes” are income tax, Social Security (survivor’s benefits), Medicare, and the like — the famous 1,038 rights and benefits that accrue to married couples. It’s not a matter of states overriding federal law, but of the federal government overriding what has been, traditionally, a right reserved to the states.

  11. posted by Kosh III on

    “The ones I dealt with tend to be to VERY REACTIONARY about gay rights issues and also tend to believe that Obama is really a Muslim-Atheist and are not above using the ‘N-word’ to describe him. ”

    This is the GOP and TeaParty here in Tennessee and much of the South where it’s not just the rights of gay, but women and minorities who are under massive and sustained assault by the alleged proponents of small government and liberty.
    Ron Paul(and Rand) is a fraud. He does not support equal rights and he opposes the right of a woman to control her own body.

    • posted by Kosh III on

      PS

      I know it’s been years, but I still miss the Forum ya’ll used to have. :)

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      They aren’t any better in Texas. And then there’s the overtly racist “comedy” on Limbaugh. Really, anyone who can’t see what the Tea Party is now (regardless of what the people starting it intended) has to have their heads in the sand.

  12. posted by New post: GOP supporters carried Question 6 to victory | Maryland for All Families on

    [...] thing here (& thanks for links to Andrew Sullivan, Don Boudreaux/Cafe Hayek, Maryland Juice, Steve Miller/Independent Gay Forum). Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like [...]

  13. posted by From friends and foes, reactions | Maryland for All Families on

    [...] are powerful engine of pot-law reform. Why don’t we see them more on same-sex marriage? [Steve Miller, Independent Gay Forum, who also has kind praise for my work on the issue in Maryland] What comes next in the long advance [...]

  14. posted by Carl on

    I think it’s telling that “libertarian” hero Rand, whose extent of support for gay rights amounts to joking that Obama is gay, does not make a peep about pushing any pro-gay legislation in his new attempts to be influential.

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1112/83737.html

  15. posted by TomJeffersonIII on

    Yeah, well I dispute the “libertarian” label being applied to Ron Paul or Mitt’s VP. Some folks on the far right like to “slum” in libertarian circles when it suits them — in terms of fundraising or looking snazzy or getting votes for something.

    Both them are probably “paleo-conservatives”, which is basically very pro-corporation, pro-State’s rights, pro-life, pro-traditional family, pro-gun, pro-Christian nation-religious right, pro-survival of the fittest.

  16. posted by Don on

    I believe Stephen is on to something. Notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence that Tea Party members and evangelicals are super-anti-gay, from the very beginning Tea Party leaders pointed to government overreach as a huge problem generally. When some of their members shouted anti-gay rallying cries, the leadership said “we’re not about that; sit down and shut up”

    I have long believed (since the 80s) that the disconnect between small government economic conservatives and big government social conservatives would eventually split. I also believe gay rights, contraception, and a host of social issues force conservatives to face this incongruence in their message. While they do not magically believe gay rights are good and that gay people are not “perverts”; they do usually come down on the side of “less government” when forced into a choice when it is pointed out that they are being inconsistent.

    What Stephen is pointing to is the fertile soil where conservatives are forced to admit that they want less government in their lives and more government in other people’s lives. When phrased that way, they almost always end up on the side of less government. We must continue to force their inconsistencies upon them and make them choose. When they do, we almost always win.

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      That’s basically Ted Olson’s argument (at least as I understand it). It’s certainly one worth making, but I think it underestimates the hypocrisy cognitive dissonance which characterizes our politics.

      • posted by Houndentenor on

        that should read “hypocrisy AND cognitive dissonance”

        oops

    • posted by DCBuck on

      Couldn’t agree more, Don. In other words, you are suggesting that the Republicans get back to the REAL, CORE message of conservatism – less government all the way around; personal responsibility and law and order that applies to everyone – instead of being CINOs like Bachmann, Hucksterbee, Santorum, and their ilk. I keep referring back to a very telling 1994 WaPo article on one of modern conservatism’s founding fathers, Barry Goldwater:

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/daily/may98/goldwater072894.htm

      Clearly, his pure message has been bastardized and co-opted by the loony fringes, who wouldn’t know the real tenets of conservatism if it bit them on their ample, white behinds.

      But, gotta agree with pretty much everyone else here – reaching out to the loony teabaggers – who, despite the mantra many in their group keep repeating, are inexorably tied to the equally wacko Talibangelicals and their dream of a warped, Biblical version of Sharia Law – is the definition of “futile.” I truly believe that there is a significant minority, if not silent majority of Republicans who are true conservatives and could be successfully reached.

  17. posted by Don on

    the part of the electorate that this theory doesn’t consider are those who vote “emotionally” and not logically. many of the undercurrents of this last election were heavy on those emotional strings of what people KNOW to be true without any evidence. Obama raised your taxes, he spends more than republicans, he’s bad at foreign policy. People KNEW these things. Problem is they weren’t true. no amount of argument will ever reach those who KNOW gay is wrong. you just have to outlive them. or wait for politicians to quit exploiting our emotion-based fears for political gain. wait, it might just be easier to outlive today’s anti-gay people. that other one could take a few centuries.

  18. posted by TomjeffersonIII on

    1. The pot would have to be entirely made, grown and sold within a State. Nothing related to it, could cross state or national boarders, or else Federal commerce powers would kick in.

    2. More recently their is a U.S. Supreme Court case on a State that tried to liberalize its pot law, in contradiction to federal law and, at the end of the day, the Feds won.

    3. In the early 1970s the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was not something that the Federal Constitution protected. Case law has certainly improved since the 1970s, but the Supreme Court wants to avoid another Roe v. Wade split down the nation and so their ruling on gay marriage will come after the nation has well sorted out its opinion and act accordingly.

    If you look at the good gay rights opinions that have come from the Supreme Court, they stay clear of saying that government discrimination against gays is like government discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion, sex or disability.

    As long as anti-gay discrimination, by the government, is under the “rational review” level it is safe to say that the Supreme Court is just not going to move ahead of the public on the issue.

    Yes, it is more interesting — legally — as to what happens when a State approves gay marriage, a couple gets legally married in said state and then goes to a state that does not recognize gay marriage.
    That is probably the real weakness in DOMA.

    Personally, I have mixed views on entire “lets legalize drugs” movement and serious regulatory issues do need to be address, even if the Feds were to give it the “OK”.

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