FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Outright Libertarians Executive Committee Comments on Bob Barr’s Declaration of Candidacy for the Libertarian Nomination
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO, SEATTLE, KNOXVILLE, PHILADELPHIA and ATLANTA — This Monday, former Congressman (and recent LNC committee member) Bob Barr announced his candidacy for the Libertarian Nomination for President of the United States.
Many of you are wondering where Outright Libertarians stands on this recent development, and the short answer is this: our position has not changed.
We continue to strongly support Dr. George Phillies as our endorsed candidate. Dr. Phillies has shown the courage, character and commitment that Outright’s membership seeks in a presidential nominee. A longtime Libertarian activist and longtime supporter of equality under the law for all people (including LGBT Americans), Dr. Phillies has established an enviable record of achievement in the fight for liberty.
His platform includes uncompromising support for the rights of LGBT Americans in military service, marriage, immigration, adoption, and tax treatment. He has been an implacable foe of the Defense of Marriage Act and the military’s anti-gay recruitment policy since their inception. Most importantly, he has led important initiatives to fight for us everyday, while bringing the message of the Libertarian Party to LGBT people. We can think of no finer candidate, and are proud to reinforce our support for Dr. Phillies’ candidacy.
Regarding Mr. Barr, we find that though he has shown some welcome evolution on the issues, he has a record that remains notably different from the other Libertarians in the race. Mr. Barr has not completed Outright’s Candidate Survey, but is “on the record” regarding two issues key within the LGBT Libertarian community and the broader LGBT electoral base.
First, while we applaud the former Congressman’s repudiation of the anti-gay military policy that he drafted for the Wall Street Journal, and the evolution that this represents for Mr. Barr, his opinion on this issue simply moved into the Libertarian mainstream — rather than pushing the debate forward. Every Libertarian candidate who has answered our survey — plus Dr. Mary Ruwart (who has not yet answered our survey but is “on the record” on this issue) — shares that view.
On the Defense of Marriage Act — an odious law that Bob Barr co-sponsored as a Congressman — his evolution has been far slower. We have discussed the law with him a number of times, and recently he has telegraphed support for repealing the half of the law that creates a federal definition of marriage. However, he has not consistently campaigned on this point, and seems reluctant to speak of it. (An example of this reluctance may be heard at approximately 16:30 in this linked Atlanta radio interview with Mr. Barr: http://media.podcastingmanager.com/81570-71406/Media/CFL-20080420-S3-S4.mp3 )
In contrast, Democratic nomination candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has adopted a similar position, yet appears more willing to campaign upon it. Barack Obama has declared that he would repeal the law altogether.
Every Libertarian candidate who has completed our survey, as well as Dr. Ruwart, goes a major step further by calling for repeal of the law.
We believe that the difference between the Democratic and the Libertarian commitments on this issue is that while the two Democrats talk about doing something (despite a multi-year do-nothing record as Senators), Libertarians will fight from day one for us. We are not yet convinced that Mr. Barr would fight vigorously to promote his reluctantly-expressed position, a problem given that his position is the most statist of the serious Libertarian candidates in this race.
We welcome Bob Barr’s engagement with the Libertarian Party, and are always delighted to welcome new Libertarians into the movement. We look forward to continuing to work with him as an LNC member or in any other role he takes within our Party. However, we must hold our presidential candidates to the highest possible standards, for the benefit of both our Party and LGBT Americans. In this regard, we believe that Bob Barr has quite a bit of work to do in order to enter the mainstream on LGBT issues in comparison to the other declared Libertarian candidates in this race. Just as many of us did when we first joined the LP, he needs to “steep in the brine of Liberty” for a while longer before running for nomination as our Party’s standard-bearer.
Further, we note that regardless of who is nominated, the Libertarian Party will perform an invaluable service to the queer community in this election cycle — even if the delegates ignore Outright’s endorsement of George Phillies and instead choose Bob Barr as the Libertarian Party’s nominee, the silver lining for the LGBT community will be that a Barr candidacy will almost certainly spoil any possible victory by John McCain.
In summary, recent news has only reinforced our commitment to Dr. George Phillies, and we encourage Outright members and supporters — as well as all Libertarian Party convention delegates — to support his candidacy in Denver with their votes, their ideas, and every other resource at their disposal.
About Outright: Outright Libertarians is the largest association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Libertarian Party supporters. With hundreds of members across the United States, it is the intellectual and policy hub of the LGBT libertarian movement, serving as the voice for LGBT Americans within the Libertarian Party as well as a voice for Libertarian candidates in the LGBT community. Its web site is http://www.outrightusa.org.