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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Re: LPCA Backs Domestic Partnership Initiative

Starchild, taking Rob's three points in order:

1) A first step to getting government out of marriage would be to stop calling the contracts that the government regulates "marriage".  I don't buy Rob's argument that "marriage" is a word that Libertarians should try to take back from religion through political means.  What Libertarians should care about is contract, not "marriage".  The farther that we can separate the legal contract from all the cultural freight it's been carrying, the better.  I too would enjoy the irony of the weight of government being turned against right-wing culture warriors who have used it to promote their moralistic conception of "marriage", but it's not the LP's job to change their conceptual landscape.  The LP's job is just to stop them from legislating their morality.  Disconnecting civil partnerships from the M-word would be a deft move in that effort.

2) In a game of chicken between DOMA and millions of married California taxpayers, I wouldn't want to be riding with DOMA.  If in a fit of political suicide Obama's IRS took federal tax advantages away from those millions, federal rules would probably be rewritten to restore the status quo ante faster than you can say "AIG bonus". But that's the worst case scenario.  Hurt me with the problem of the Obama/Pelosi Democrats scrambling to revise DOMA and trying to live up to their anti-DOMA rhetoric.  I would love it if DPI forced a DOMA showdown, and I'll happily donate to Outright twice whatever extra tax liability DPI actually causes my wife and me.  But two times zero is still zero, and it's mendacious for Rob to say we on ExCom "endorsed a massive federal tax hike".

3) DPI is nothing more than repeal of Prop 8 plus renaming "marriage" to "domestic partnership" throughout California law. If DPI somehow gets on the ballot alongside straightforward repeal of Prop 8, then people can vote for both, and whichever gets a larger majority becomes law.  Prop 8 repeal would likely get more votes than DPI, but it would be a Good Thing if separation of marriage and state were part of the debate. Renaming "marriage" to "domestic partnership" is hardly a purist "leap to Libertopia", since (as even Rob  himself points out) DP would remain as regulated as marriage was (minus the Prop 8 discrimination).  

Rob claims that Republicans are behind the DPI, but when asked for evidence he quotes one anonymous (and innocuous) Facebook comment and claims the LA Times is about to "break" the story.  I'm still waiting for that evidence.  In the meantime, what this comes down to is a set of questions for your political intuitions:
  • Do you think DPI is a Republican/conservative conspiracy?
  • Do you think DPI has any chance in hell of getting the 700K signatures needed to get on the ballot?
  • Do you think that DPI somehow getting on the ballot would delay Prop 8 repeal?
  • Do you think that the Obama/Pelosi regime would let DPI passage cost married Californians hundreds of billions in lost tax advantage?
  • Do you fear (rather than welcome) a hypothetical game of chicken between DOMA and millions of married Californians?
  • Do you think "marriage" is a label that the LP should try to help win back from the religious right using electoral politics, instead of having the LP advocate for government neutrality in the culture war?