Christian conservatives aren’t the only defenders of religious free-association laws, according to the Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn, in his column Indiana’s Libertarian Moment (it’s behind a firewall so google “Indiana’s Libertarian Moment” site:wsj.com). McGurn notes that:
Today the strongest arguments for protecting the right of, say, an evangelical Christian baker to decline baking a cake for a gay wedding are not coming from religious leaders or social conservatives. They are coming from libertarians, many if not most of whom themselves support same-sex marriage.
Take New York University’s Richard Epstein, who is arguably America’s leading libertarian law professor. Mr. Epstein supports gay marriage on the grounds that, because the government has a monopoly on marriage licenses, it shouldn’t use this monopoly to withhold these licenses from couples who are gay.
But Mr. Epstein doesn’t stop here. He further argues that the same freedom of association requires that the law not be used to coerce those who disagree with gay marriage.
Mr. Epstein is not the only libertarian to speak out. … Matt Welch, editor of Reason magazine, puts it this way:
“The bad news, for those of us on the suddenly victorious side of the gay marriage debate, is that too many people are acting like sore winners, not merely content with the revolutionary step of removing state discrimination against same-sex couples in the legal recognition of marriage, but seeking to use state power to punish anyone who refuses to lend their business services to wedding ceremonies they find objectionable.”
For…social conservatives, the question is more fundamental: Will they retain sufficient freedom to live their lives and run their institutions in accord with their faith?
The irony of Indiana suggests that it may be the libertarians who have the strongest arguments for defending them.
Many LGBT people have libertarian inclinations, but the activists who dominate LGBT political lobbies tend to identify as part of the broad progressive-left movement. And activist progressives dominate LGBT media and comment boards, where they can act as enforcers of ideological conformism.
More. On libertarians and the electorate, David Boaz takes on Paul Krugman.