A Libertarian Moment

The Libertarian Party has just nominated successful, two-term governors with reputations as being fiscally conservative, socially liberal, to be its presidential and vice-presidential candidates. With former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico at the head of the ticket, and former Gov. William Weld of Massachusetts in the vice presidential slot, the LP is in a position where it could, perhaps, become a force to be reckoned with.

Many disaffected Republicans can’t stomach the idea of voting for Trump, and a few Bernie supporters can’t stomach the idea of voting for Hillary (and some of them, especially the college kids, were never actually socialists but liked Sanders’ views on pot and could similarly be attracted to Johnson’s long-standing opposition to the drug war).

The Johnson-Weld ticket supports marriage equality. And, in a recent Facebook post, Johnson takes the position that under anti-discrimination laws a private business can’t discriminate against who it will serve, but “anti-discrimination laws do not, and cannot, abridge fundamental First Amendment rights.” I agree with that.

Many had hoped that the GOP would nominate a socially moderate former governor willing to put the party’s anti-LGBT culture-war past aside and move on, while stressing a commitment to fiscal responsibility and to limiting government over-reach. That, obviously, didn’t happen. So this year, in particular, the LP represents an alternative that’s worth considering.

While you can’t expect to get everything you want from candidates running for the highest offices in the land, the Johnson-Weld ticket comes pretty darn close.

Politics as Usual

Via the Washington Post, Paul Ryan is in another fight he doesn’t want, this time over LGBT rights:

Republican leaders have tried to steer lawmakers away from wading into the hot-button debate. But with LGBT issues already boiling in the states, social conservatives seem eager to take up the cause by seeking to attach an array of religious-exemption measures to must-pass spending bills, a move that could seriously gum up the budget process.

Earlier this week, House leaders cautioned Republicans at a closed-door session that Democrats were likely to keep trying to force them into uncomfortable votes on LGBT discrimination, according to aides and members who were present.

History Lesson: Capitalism, Not Socialism, Led to Gay Rights

Via David Boaz:

Some historians like to claim socialist ideas helped bring about gay rights in the modern era. But they’re mistaking academic theory for reality….Those gay intellectuals talked a lot about socialism, but they lived in capitalism. And it was the capitalist reality, not the socialist dreams, that liberated gay people.

Some of us can remember when socialists, unlike libertarians, were adamant about not associating their movement with something as disreputable as gay rights.

Why Obama’s Bathroom Decree Is Counter-Productive

Peter H. Schuck, emeritus professor at the Yale Law School, on why Obama was wrong to impose a national rule on school bathrooms without public debate:

Do identity-based bathrooms meet this demanding [civil rights] test? The administration’s letter says yes. The subtext is that skeptics must be yahoos and bigots….

Here are just a few questions that people might have asked before making up their minds. How uncomfortable are people with the prospect of those with different anatomies sharing their bathrooms? Is this discomfort likely to grow or decline? Since gender identity cannot be confirmed before entering bathrooms, how great is the risk of voyeurism or other abuses? How costly will it be to provide gender-neutral bathrooms, and how would people of all genders feel about such alternatives?

And Schuck doesn’t even address the issue of public school locker rooms, where these questions are even more pertinent.

‘Equality’ Supersedes All Other Rights, Right?

Files these under signs of the times.

Say as we say, or else:

Greeting customers as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” — or even not using the pronoun “ze” or “zir” — could prove costly for New York City businesses under rules drafted by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s bureaucrats.

The Gotham mayor’s Commission on Human Rights says entities that fail to address customers by their preferred gender pronouns and titles are in violation of the law and could be subject to penalties of up to $250,000.

Law professor Eugene Volokh comments:

this isn’t just the government as employer, requiring its employees to say things that keep government patrons happy with government services. This is the government as sovereign, threatening “civil penalties up to $125,000 for violations, and up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct” if people don’t speak the way the government tells them to speak.

I hope there aren’t any Quakers in NYC who still would like to refer to folks by “thee” and “thou.”

Our message on your (church) property:

Greg Bourke and Michael De Leon, who also were among the plaintiffs in the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case creating a constitutional right to gay marriage, are accusing the Archdiocese of Louisville of discriminating against them for rejecting their headstone design celebrating gay marriage.

The two men bought a joint burial plot in St. Michael Cemetery, which is run by the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Louisville.

They later submitted a design of a headstone for the plot, which featured an inscription of the couple’s wedding rings interlocking and an image of the Supreme Court building.

In a letter marked March 30, the Archdiocese denied the headstone design request, saying it goes against Catholic teaching on marriage. … The Archdiocese said other designs on the headstone, including “both your names and dates of birth and of course the religious symbol of the cross,” were acceptable. “However, we cannot approve the depiction of the Supreme Court building and the use of wedding rings.”

in another account:

Bourke said the Archdiocese is exempt from the local Fairness Ordinance that prohibits discrimination against members of the LGBT community, and the “Archdiocese has every legal right to do what they’re doing,” Bourke said. “We have no protection whatsoever in a situation like this.”

Which suggests he thinks they ought to have such “protection” to force the archidiocese to allow symbols and statements on church property that it finds at odds with the Catholic faith.

In both these stories, those pursing their objectives in the name of equality think what they want trumps the expressive, property and faith rights of others.

More. Via the Wall Street Journal’s Notable & Quotable, remarks by Cuban poet and human-rights activist Armando Valladares on receiving the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s Canterbury Medal in New York, May 12:

Just as there is a short distance between the U.S. and Cuba, there is a very short distance between a democracy and a dictatorship where the government gets to decide what we believe and what we do. And sometimes this is not done at gunpoint but instead it is done one piece of paper at a time, one seemingly meaningless rule at a time, one silencing at a time. Beware young friends. Never compromise. Never allow the government—or anyone else—to tell you what you can or cannot believe or what you can and cannot say or what your conscience tells you to have to do.

His full remarks can be viewed here, or read here.

The Methodists’ Time for Choosing

The United Methodist Church—the largest mainline Protestant denomination in the U.S. and the third largest U.S. denomination overall—ends its quadrennial general convention in Portland, Ore., later this week. As the Washington Post reports:

The focus has been on whether to change or keep the denomination’s rejection of homosexuality. But a broader question is up for a vote: What do the 13 million Methodists from Africa to Asia to America have in common? …

Delegates from dozens of countries will consider the possibility of full inclusion of LGBT people, the “agree to disagree” option, whether gay people can be ordained, the question of officiating at same-sex weddings, whether such weddings can be held in Methodist churches and whether the current Book of Discipline wording should remain.

Roughly half of the denomination’s members are from the U.S., and while it appears a majority of North American conference delegates support LGBT inclusion, 30% of the delegates come from Africa, “where Methodists tend to be much more conservative on issues of homosexuality,” the Post reports.

Of the three options (1) maintain the anti-LGBT prohibitions, (2) embrace LGBT inclusion, and (3) let difference countries/regions adopt their own policies, the last may be the best that can be hoped for, and indeed the right solution for a church so at odds with itself. But there’s a strong likelihood that the anti-gay contingents, with some support from conservative U.S. Methodists, will keep the prohibitions in place. We’ll see.

The conference is also dealing with four measures proposing the church divest its investments from Israeli companies, and last January the church’s pension fund removed five Israeli banks from its portfolio. If the conference maintains its anti-gay policies and extends its anti-Israeli policies, then U.S. members should seriously consider whether affiliating with a global church that shuns the light and embraces bigotry is where they wish to celebrate the Lord.

Update. They punted, voting to delay all consideration of gay-related proposals via a commission that will spend at least two years reviewing policy on the subject:

But global membership is moving in the conservative direction, and during the Conference the progressives were watching their many proposed measures advancing equality get voted down in subcommittees, while conservatives’ efforts to strengthen the rules were advancing. …

Yet several conservative United Methodists from Africa spoke Wednesday from the floor, demanding their chance to vote on measures aimed at shoring up the ban on gay life. Conservatives in the church have been pushing for trials and other punishment for United Methodist pastors who come out or who officiate at same-sex weddings.

And this:

The vote Wednesday night in Portland, Ore., came one day after news leaked that bishops and various leaders were meeting over a plan to separate.

I wish the U.S. church had voted to leave.

More. On a positive note, the anti-Israeli propositions also lost. I should have clarified that the anti-Israeli push came predominantly from U.S. progressives, who also were among those supporting the gay-inclusive resolutions—the same conundrum we see with the Presbyterians and other denominations where the progressive left is at odds with the conservative right, and fie on both.

Not So Friendly Inquisitors

Via Reason: The Office of Inclusive Excellence Sounds Like a Cult.

Milo’s grandstanding is open to criticism, but his progressive denouncers are ridiculous caricatures. Progressive thought-controllers are no different from religious right inquisitors.

Also on the subject of our friendly Social Justice Warriors, blogger Rebecca de Winter on “the hilarious irony of a movement that claims ‘gender is a social construct’ while at the same time belittling males in particular at every turn.”

Also try reconciling the feminist “gender is a social construct” meme with transgender rights activism. But when have activists let intellectual consistency get in the way.

More. Progressives believe, Free speech for me, violence for thee.

The Law: Whatever Federal Bureaucrats Declare It to Be?

Via the National Law Journal:

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) reminded employers this week in no uncertain terms that they are required to provide transgender workers with access to bathrooms that corresponds with their gender identity. A failure to do so – the EEOC warned – runs the risk of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Title VII prohibits employers—including federal, state, and local governments— from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion.

There are many reasons for opposing the North Carolina law that (along with nuking locally passed LGBT anti-discrimination provisions in the state) insists that restroom and locker facilities in government buildings and schools be determined by gender as specified on birth certificates. (The law, as the Washington Post confirms, lets private businesses continue to set their own rules for bathrooms and locker rooms, a point sometimes misreported elsewhere.)

But every bad state law is not open to the executive branch to give thumbs up or thumbs down—a power the Constitution gives to the judiciary, not the federal bureaucracy. And reinterpreting Title VII this broadly begs the question on what limits, if any, progressives think may apply to executive branch agencies.

At some point, a president not of liberal liking will obtain the White House and progressives will morph into strict constructionists who will deny they were ever anything but.

More. Yes, some of these challenges will end up before the courts, where they should be decided. But the federal government is threatening to cut funding to North Carolina’s schools based on the feds’ determination that the state’s law is invalid:

North Carolina receives more than $4 billion in federal education funding each year. Now the federal government is considering withholding that money because, the Justice Department says, the state has passed a law that violates the civil rights of transgender individuals by forcing them to use bathrooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates instead of their gender identity.

And this:

North Carolina is facing additional threats to its federal funding as two more agencies—the U.S. Department of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development—say they are reviewing the state’s controversial House Bill 2.

Furthermore. Pouring fuel on the fire, the Obama administration next issued a directive telling public schools throughout the U.S. to allow students to access school restrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity. Meaning, to be blunt, penises in girls locker rooms. And any opposition, such as suggesting private changing/showering areas for non-transitioned transgender students, is prejudice, hatred, Jim Crow. End of discussion, you bigots.

Via Robby Soave at reason.com: Title IX Is a Dangerous Tool for Extending Transgender Kids’ Rights.

Via Tom G. Palmer:

This case of rule by decree and federal overreach is a very valuable gift to the Trumpanzees. The issues are not so easily sorted out and probably better addressed by using common sense in various ways.

Exactly. But inflaming the culture wars serves the interests of partisans on both the left and right.

From the comments: “In the early 80s the Reagan administration cut off highway funds for any state that didn’t raise its drinking age to 21. … Don’t pretend like there’s no precedent for the federal government making this kind of threat or that it’s only Democrats that have done it.”

Response from commenter Jared: “Balderdash. The drinking age was raised nationally by Congress—when it passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act—and so the executive branch under Reagan was executing the will of Congress. In this case, Congress, even when the Democrats were in control, has refused to pass a transgender rights law. This directive is based on the Obama administration’s radical reinterpretation of the existing civil rights laws, in the face of congressional inaction — a very different situation, and one that represents a sweeping expansion of executive power.”

Indiana

Cruz was hoping the “bathroom issue” would make a difference in Indiana. But despite a final push, he lost big and then suspended his campaign.

Via Politico on why Cruz’s social conservative pandering fell flat in Indiana (and, really, most everywhere else):

The only problem with Cruz’s socially conservative message? The voters he has to win over [in Indiana] don’t like it. …

Today, vast swaths of the state’s Republican electorate, from Indianapolis to West Lafayette, have retreated from the culture wars. And like the 50s-era diner itself, Cruz’s dogged socially conservative message seems anachronistic—and perhaps a little tin-eared—to these fiscally conservative, socially liberal Republicans….

Along similar lines, Dave Weigel on why Cruz’s defeat in Indiana may also be the biggest electoral victory for transgender rights:

[Cruz] pummeled Donald Trump for supporting the rights of transgender people to use their adopted gender’s bathrooms. And then he lost in a landslide, and quit the presidential race.

I wish Kasich had competed in Indiana; the pact with Cruz was a bad idea.

On the other hand, hard to argue with Cruz’s takedown of Trump. If only they both could have lost!

More. “Many Republicans were surprised Mr. Cruz was the one in the large GOP field to wind up being Mr. Trump’s most formidable opponent,” the Wall Street Journal reports, noting:

The senator’s coalition never grew beyond a core group of dedicated social conservatives, leaving Mr. Trump to pick up support from voters who might have otherwise supported one of the other 14 Republicans who have ended their presidential campaigns.

Cruz’s social conservative bloc was large enough to make him the designated runner up in a crowded, diffuse field. But as the political power and popular appeal of the religious right wanes in the GOP, Cruz as the alternative meant votes going to Trump.

Furthermore. Via a Wall Street Journal editorial, A Cruz Postmortem:

Mr. Cruz’s pandering to the right also sent a signal to moderate and somewhat conservative Republicans that he didn’t need their support. Mr. Trump split the “very conservative” vote with Mr. Cruz but crushed the Senator among more moderate voters. That doomed Mr. Cruz in the East in particular, but also in Indiana.

The Texan’s lost opportunity was to expand his appeal beyond his most conservative base of support and coalesce mainstream Republicans. He never tried to break out of his factional ghetto, as if excoriating the establishment and transgender bathroom laws could motivate a majority to defeat Mr. Trump’s plurality.

The conservatives aghast at Mr. Trump should appreciate the irony that even as Mr. Cruz hoped to produce a new conservative era, he helped wreck the best chance for conservative reform in years.

Indeed. And the WSJ rightly points out the culpability of both Cruz “and his allies at the Heritage Foundation and the Mark Levin talk-radio right.”

ACLU Would Compel Therapists to Counsel LGBT People

The ACLU condemns a Tennessee law that allows counselors and therapists to decline to provide their services to a client for “goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with the sincerely held principles of the counselor or therapist,” as long as the professional recommends somebody else who can help the client.

Who would want a therapist that doesn’t want you as a client because you’re gay or transgender? Same people who want someone opposed to gay weddings to cater their gay wedding.

As Scott Shackford ‏blogged, “Tenn.’s Discriminatory Counseling Law Protects LGBT Folks from Getting Bad Advice.”

More. In a fundraising email, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) declares, “this week in Tennessee, Governor Bill Haslam signed a dangerous bill allowing medical professionals to refuse mental health services to LGBT patients.”

Gay rights advocates used to ask those who encouraged gays to stay in the closet and try to be straight, “Would you want your sister to marry a gay man?” I suggest asking Zeke Stokes, GLAAD’s vice president of programs, whose signature is on the email, “Would you want gay kids to be sent to an anti-gay shrink?” Who, of course, would be prohibited from indicating to potential clients that he or she is not accepting of homosexuality.

Furthermore. No, I don’t buy the argument that the law means suicide hotlines will let gay people kill themselves because the state isn’t compelling them to provide mental health services to LGBT people. Because, you know, Jim Crow.