Fissures and Alliances

At the conservative Washington Examiner, Philip Klein predicts Social Conservatives and Libertarians Will Get Married:

Perhaps fiercer than any of these fights is the long-standing conflict between social conservatives and libertarians. But when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage last month, they created an opening for a wedding between these two groups, which could benefit the Republican Party ahead of the 2016 election. . . .

But as the dust settles on the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, it’s becoming clearer that the debate over the issue is going to shift to one of religious freedom. And on that issue, there’s much more of an opening for libertarians and social conservatives to get along. . . .

But with gay marriage legal, the cultural debate has been moving to issues such as: Should a religiously observant baker or photographer be forced to participate in gay weddings? Or, should a Catholic Church be forced to perform gay marriages?

Whatever their differences on the underlying issue of homosexuality and gay marriage, it will be hard for many libertarians to justify any sort of government coercion forcing individuals to violate their deeply held beliefs. As a result, they’ll find themselves increasingly — and begrudgingly — on the same side as social conservatives on many of the looming debates.

Over at the libertarian, Scott Shackford strikes a similar note, in Is This Where Libertarians and the Gay Community Part Ways?:

But just because libertarians and gay citizens were aligned in the pursuit of ending government mistreatment, that doesn’t mean other goals line up. Libertarians draw that bright, hard line between government behavior and private behavior. Others often do not, and what many gay activists see as justice and equality in the private sector, libertarians see as inappropriate government coercion.

Highlighting some of these contentions, William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal (A Win on Marriage: Now Protect Faith) addresses whether, for instance, religiously affiliated schools should be denied tax-exempt status for refusing to extend campus housing benefits given to opposite-sex married couples to same-sex spouses:

As part of a reasonable compromise that includes solid antidiscrimination provisions in education and housing, supporters of same-sex marriage should accept legislative language that prohibits the federal government from withholding or withdrawing tax exemptions from institutions solely on the basis of their opposition to Obergefell.

Underlying these specific issues—and others that will be even harder to resolve—is an urgent question: How can people with fundamentally different views peacefully coexist within the same political community? Except when confronted by pure evil, a generous pluralism is almost always the best course, as is magnanimity in victory.

I think most LGBT people, as opposed to LGBT activists and ideologues (whether beltway professionals, regional zealots, or correct-line-upholding blog commenters) are fine with live and let live, and don’t particularly wish to find and punish the tiny number of small service providers that have religious objections to gay weddings, or force religious schools to violate their faith principles. But activists need a mission. If they are intent on declaring religious freedom and dissent unacceptable hate behavior that must be rectified by the state, then this will, indeed, be a cause unacceptable to those who respect individual liberty.

More. Progressives clap and cheer dictates such as this awful ruling. Worse, not only were the bakers fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian wedding, but the government has ordered them to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about not being willing to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their religious beliefs, or face further fines. This is why defenders of individual rights and liberty are now at odds with the LGBT left.

Furthermore. More about the “cease and desist” order which is directed at preventing the bakery (now reduced to an online business) or, by extension, others, from stating that their services do not include same-sex weddings. Along with the extreme damages levied against the Kleins, it represents a further assault on their First Amendment rights.

17 Comments for “Fissures and Alliances”

  1. posted by Lori Heine on

    I’m done taking conservatives seriously. They don’t listen to a damned thing libertarians say about anything. Libertarians are making a huge mistake if we go on pandering to conservative sentiments–many of which are irrational and incapable of being reconciled with libertarian principle.

    What, pray tell, do homocons propose we do about the few troublemakers who will want to sue anti-gay churches? Betcha it will have something to do with government. If not immediately, then eventually, because homocons pander to straight moderate conservatives, who then pander to those farther to the right, and on and on.

    Most LGBT people regard planning a wedding exactly the same way straights do, in that it’s their special day, and they don’t want to entrust any part of it to bigots. Nor do they want bigots getting their money. This whole brouhaha about legions and hordes of gays suing anti-gay businesses or churches is nothing but a panic, whose intent is to provoke a backlash.

    Wise up, homocons, and stop being useful idiots for this.

    • posted by Tom Jefferson III on

      —-This is why defenders of individual rights and liberty are now at odds with the LGBT left.

      Yes, not only is anyone who is remotely center-left probably getting dumped into the “LGBT left” box, but this statement assignments NO personal responsibility for the lack of respect for individual rights most of these “religious freedom” bills have shown.

      Are people talking — like mature adults — about how to protect religious freedom and civil rights? Nope. The “religious freedom” crowd seems dominated by people who have little respect for personal rights and no interest in talking about exemptions as part of a larger LGBT civil rights bill.

    • posted by craig123 on

      So, in Lori Heine’s view, it’s homocon idiocy to think that people with whom you disagree also have rights that should be defended. Spare us from the world you would create for us. But then, since she has spouted Noam Chomsky nonsense in the past to support her views, why be surprised at the authoritarianism that underlies her supposed liberalism.

      • posted by Mike in Houston on

        I can only surmise that you’ve never read Chomsky, since his views lean social libertarian & anarchis-syndicalism… and has been equally critical of unfettered capitalism and socialist totalitarianism…

        Which is simply to say he’s an American in a multicultural society…

        Happy 4th of July!

        • posted by craig123 on

          On Chomsky: “Nobody knows just how the working classes will establish this anarcho-syndicalist system, but rest assured that it will be entirely without bloodshed or coercion of any kind. If you can criticize it, it’s not what he had in mind.”

          Also: “he apparently has no problem not only defending Putin’s authoritarian state, but also preaching its talking points, as he did in an interview with Democracy Now. ”

  2. posted by dalea on

    All these small religious businesses are bound by voluntary contracts freely entered into. Retail leases always state that the business will sell to any lawful customer, which means basically anyone who can pay for the product. Merchant Association rules also require this. So do retail bank accounts, retail financial agreements, supplier contracts and branded product arrangements. Credit and debit cards have the same requirement; you must sell to anyone using the card. After forty years in retail, i can not see anyway these religious bakers etc are not in default on numerous voluntary contracts, Those suing them are asking for specific performance of contractual obligations, which is a very Libertarian way to do things.

    It would behoove those who keep bringing this up to learn about the realities of retail practice. Especially the voluntary web of agreements which makes the market economy possible.

    • posted by Lori Heine on

      Then the lawsuit, or the prosecution, needs to spell out in the media exactly what the charge is. Will it be distorted by the social right? Of course it will–they lie about almost everything. But it should be made as clear as possible, nonetheless.

      It is not in the best interests of those supporting marriage equality to let their opponents mush all the relevant details of a case together into a huge, messy blob. If you can spell out the reasons for some of these issues to come up, in a comment on this blog, then surely it can be done in the media.

      • posted by Houndentenor on

        Sadly the days when someone writing or talking about a subject in the media could be expected to have thoroughly researched the story are over. It’s about what they can sensationalize for ratings and not about accurately reporting information to readers and viewers.

        • posted by Wilberforce on

          That’s the media’s excuse, that they are always after ratings. They repeat it nonstop when ever a question about content comes up.
          But the excuse is a lie. The media is after ratings to a degree. They are more interested in crowd control, because the public has to be manipulated into voting against their own interests. For that, the media play certain memes. A long standing one is the legitimacy of fundamentalism. For that, they have to exclude all fundamentalist corruptions. They also five fundamentalists unlimited access, while mainstream Christians are shut out. This isn’t for ratings. It’s because the fundamentalist values of selfishness and cruelty are so useful to corporate culture.
          But please, go on repeating obvious media lies. Maybe they’ll get you onto the teevee one day.

  3. posted by Jorge on

    I’m done taking conservatives seriously. They don’t listen to a damned thing libertarians say about anything.

    Libertarians, like most partisans, have an annoying habit of worshiping sacred cows over the people who raise them. They need to be more like John Stossell and spell it out, do the hard work of thought and persuasion.

    • posted by Lori Heine on

      That you don’t realize a great many of them do demonstrates that you don’t listen to any except John Stossel. Maybe you need to get out more.

  4. posted by Mark Peterson on

    Stephen’s latest broadside against applying public accommodations laws to gay and lesbian people shouldn’t surprise.

    I wonder what his evidence is for the claim that “most LGBT people, as opposed to LGBT activists (whether beltway professionals or regional zealots) are fine” with his position, If most LGBT people opposed public accommodations laws, you’d think that would have been a major talking point in state legislative battles for the laws. Two states (Maine and Washington) approved their public accommodations laws through referenda. If Stephen’s right and “most LGBT people” actually opposed those laws, why didn’t opponents mention this in any of their TV ads?

  5. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    I think most LGBT people, as opposed to LGBT activists (whether beltway professionals or regional zealots) are fine with live and let live …

    I don’t know what polls/data Stephen is relying upon, but if his observation is correct then there is a marked difference between the attitudes of gays and lesbians, on the one hand, and the general population, on the other.

    … and don’t particularly wish to find and punish the tiny number of small service providers that have religious objections to gay weddings, or force religious schools to violate their faith principles.

    The rub is, of course, that the laws that are actually proposed to protect “the tiny number of small service providers that have religious objections to gay weddings” single out gays and lesbians, and gays and lesbians alone, for special, targeted government-sanctioned discrimination. The laws that are actually proposed do not exempt service providers that have religious objections to any other weddings (interracial, inter-denominational, inter-religion, remarriage after divorce).

    The question of whether we should provide a general religious exemption from public accommodations laws is different and distinct from the question of whether we should provide an religious exemption from public accommodations laws that is targeted at “gay weddings”, but but allows no exemption for religious exemption with respect to any other weddings. The former, it seems to me, is a proper subject to reasoned policy discussion and debate; the latter — a sham and a fraud, for the most part — is not.

    The “tell” that many of the targeted “religious freedom” exemptions are a sham and fraud, it seems to me, is most obvious when you look at the states that are rushing to enact the “religious freedom” laws exempting “the tiny number of small service providers that have religious objections to gay weddings” from public accommodations laws. Most of the states where the pressure to protect “religious freedom” is greatest (e.g. Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas) don’t have public accommodations laws that protect gays and lesbians as a class. So what is the point, other than to make a point?

    I suppose that I may be (along with several other frequent commenters who have been active in local and state politics on behalf of LGBT issues) one of the “regional zealots” that Stephen is referring to, so let me make two observations:

    (1) I have no issue with “religious freedom” exemptions to public accommodations laws, so long as the exemptions are religion-neutral (protecting freedom of conscience, religious or non-religious), issue-neutral (are applicable to all instances of a particular focus, such as all marriages when objection to marriage is the focus), and class-neutral (do not single out gays and lesbians for special discrimination).

    I think that a “de minimus” exemption to public accommodations laws would be a better, simpler, and tested solution for protecting “the tiny number of small service providers that have religious objections to gay weddings”, as well as other small, family-owned and operated businesses that might have religious objections to one thing and another, including other forms of marriage.

    In the case of any exemption to public accommodations laws, I think that it is fair to required the business owner refusing to do business with this, that or the other to post a notice about the nature of the business that the business owner will not take, so that potential customers have fair warning.

    I don’t think that it would be too hard to work out a reasonable level of general protection for business owners if social conservatives were interested in result rather than bombast, but I don’t see it happening.

    (2) The “libertarians” who support the special, targeted discrimination laws that are being proposed under the rubric of “religious freedom” need to look at an internal contradiction in “libertarian” thought as applied to the targeted, special exemptions from public accommodations laws that are being supported. On the one hand, “libertarian” political theory abhors public accommodations laws and other similar laws that impinge upon the ability of businesses to operate according to their own lights. On the other hand, “libertarian” political theory supports “equal means equal”. The two principles are often in tension.

    We saw that tension with respect to marriage equality, as evidenced by the Libertarian Party’s platform plank on marriage equality:

    Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.

    In the case of marriage equality, many (probably most) “libertarians” came down in favor of the principle of non-discrimination in marriage laws, setting aside, for the time being anyway, the principle that the government should not be defining or regulating marriage. I suspect (but do not know for certain) that many of them did so knowlingly, understanding that expanding marriage to include gays and lesbians further entrenched government involvement in defining and regulating marriage, if for no other reason than that when you expand the pool of people who can marry, you expand the reach of government involvement.

    In the case of public accommodations laws, a similar tension exists.

    Carving out special, targeted exemptions to public accommodations laws (whether currently in force or not) reduces the reach of government involvement into fair business practice, but creating government-sanctioned discrimination targeted against gays and lesbians, and gays and lesbians alone, weakens the principle that “sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals”.

    Stephen and the “libertarian” writers he often cites have clearly come down on the side of supporting special, targeted discrimination when it comes to public accommodations laws. None speak of pushing for general exemptions to public accommodations laws, or eliminating public accommodations laws, except in passing. The energy is focused on supporting targeted exemptions to public accommodations laws.

    If Stephen and the “libertarian” writers he cites reflect the attitudes of “liberarians” generally, then the predictions that “Social Conservatives and Libertarians Will Get Married” are probably true, and that would be a shame, it seems to me, because it would mean that the “libertarian” principle of equal treatment under the law would have been weakened in the process. I would have hoped for the opposite result, but a significant number of “libertarians” have been in bed with social conservatives for a long time, and I am not surprised.

    • posted by Mike in Houston on

      I’d like to see a little intellectual honesty from Stephen – the bakery in question did not run afoul of marriage equality rulings… at the time that they denied service SSM was not legally recognized in that state (ditto the florists & photographers in NM, CO & WA). They violated public accommodation laws that covered sexual orientation.

      • posted by Houndentenor on

        Exactly. And if the right wants to make a case for repealing public accommodations laws they are welcome to do so, but I am not in favor of a special carve for one particular group (fundamentalist Christians) to be able to discriminate against another particular group (gay people) while everyone else has to abide by the law? Would it be legal for a gay-owned business to refuse service to Baptists? If you say yes to that as well then advocate for changing the law, but the current debate calls for special rights for one particular subset of one religion. That’s not acceptable.

  6. posted by Stuart Kenny on

    You’ve got to be sort of proud of those anti-gay florists, bakers, and wedding planners who broke through that particular glass ceiling.

    • posted by Tom Jefferson III on

      I can just see the beauty and fashion industry deciding to invoke its religious freedom in order to make it VERY difficult for anti-gay people to buy a movie ticket, clothing or avoid smelling like the plague. Would straight men be able to have sex with a woman without access to movies, clothing, flowers and grooming products? ;0)

      Some how I doubt very much that the proponents of religious freedom actually care that much about, you know, religious freedom. Maybe I am expecting far too much from a cause.

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