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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rob Power's Anti-Gay-Rights Bogeymen

Let's put some names to the bogeymen that Rob Power imagines are conspiring against him, and see if this theory holds any more water than his notion that DPI is a Republican conspiracy.

Rob complains that Zander and other LPCA officers didn't oppose Prop 8 as much as they could.  I agree, and I worked with Rob to force an email vote on the question.  We fell one vote short.  The LPCA officers were arguing the politics of the matter -- asking what reciprocal recognition we would get from the anti-8 forces -- while Rob and I argued that we should just stand up for our Libertarian principles, regardless of such political concerns.  (Now Rob is, by his own account, arguing pragmatism/politics over principle in saying that the alleged political consequences of DPI count more than its substance.  My position remains that asserting mainstream libertarian principles are in the long run always the LP's best politics.)

But note that Rob's Prop 8 bogeymen -- Zander and some of our other officers -- have (AFAIK) had nothing whatsoever to do with what Rob claims are "attack[s on] the LP’s long-standing social stances (abortion rights, gay rights, drug rights, etc.)".  Rob's finger here is trying to point at me, because I helped move the Platform toward ecumenical libertarianism and away from Rothbardian anarcholibertarianism.  But the truth is that I have never "attacked" the LP's principles on "gay rights" or "drug rights", and in fact Rob saw me argue vigorously on PlatCom in their defense.  It's true that the 2008 PlatCom proposed silence on abortion, but Rob should know that I advocated having our committee report mirror the delegates' plank retention vote on abortion -- which I correctly predicted would fail to remove it.  Rob has seen me argue on the 2010 PlatCom against removing the abortion plank, so it's shameful when he predicts his bogeymen "will try it again in 2010, mark my words".  Nobody else "leading the charge in this thread" is a member of PlatCom or the Reform Caucus leadership except me.  (The only other charge-leader here is Mike Seebeck, who has nothing but disdain for Platform reform efforts.)  Rob is trying to discredit me by associating me with 1) LPCA Prop 8 idleness that he knows I opposed and 2) efforts to "pander to the religious right" that he's seen me oppose on PlatCom.  He claims he's being "called names", but what he's doing here is indeed "just politics".

I chuckled at Rob's comment above that "it always looks like we’re about to lose, right up until the vote at convention".  During the 2008 Platform cycle Rob consistently predicted that the Denver delegates would reject the PlatCom majority report out of hand, and he was spectacularly wrong.  In fact, the only substantive change the delegates made to the reformers' Vegas draft was in the same abortion plank that I warned should be tied to the plank retention vote.  Rob, I'll be happy to make a bet with you on whether the upcoming LPCA convention will repudiate ExCom's endorsement of DPI.  (Note that re-re-affirming our opposition to Prop 8 would not count as repudiation.)  And if you dare read to the delegates all the histrionic comments of Outright leader Allan Wallace above, I'll give you 10-1 odds on that bet.

Allen, what straight Libertarians are "tell[ing you] that we should not expect equal treatment under the law"?  Contract enforcement is not a "side issue to equal rights under the law".  If you rename marriage to "domestic partnership" to sound more like a contract than a sacrament, then you of course make it harder to deny equal rights under the law.  (And of course, DPI repeals Prop 8 outright.)

The contract vs. sacrament distinction is the key to the most charitable hypothesis I can muster for Rob's behavior here, aside from easy theories involving factionalism and paranoia.  He seems to admit that his agenda is to undo the religious takeover of the marriage label-plus-legal-concept that has occurred in the West sometime in the last millennium or so (similar to how Christmas earlier took over winter solstice).  On the verge of that double-victory in the culture war (where despite Rob's protests this rabid atheist is firmly on his side), he does not want to sever the connection between the label and the legal concept.  By contrast, I'm willing to accept political victory on just the legal concept, and to fight for the "marriage" label outside the political arena.  Rob claims that his position is the pragmatic/incrementalist one, but I read him as determined to win that double-victory and rejecting half a loaf.  I too welcome that impending double-victory, but I don't mind using DPI to promote the separation of marriage and state.

Debra, no, there were no LPCA resolutions or press releases on Prop 8, just the California Freedom front-page article that Paulie linked to.  Yes, it's true that the LPCA ExCom considered a motion directing our officers to "place a No-on-8 logo and link on the front page, and send out a No-on-8 email to our Constant Contact distribution list".  You know who made that motion?  Me.  It failed 7-0-1, but it needed a majority of eligible positions (8 out of 15) to pass.  (The one explicit abstention was from one of the three people who voted against endorsing DPI, further undercutting Rob's us-vs-them theories.)  To Rob's credit, the recent Outright press release was very gracious in saying "the Libertarian Party of California was a full partner in the No On 8 coalition", even though the LPCA could have done more.

Gene, your paragraph about DPI says all that needs to be said.  Now, if you're straight, prepare to be called a "closet homophobe", and if you're married, a "hypocrite".  Don't worry, it's "just politics".