While we libertarians tend to be loud and boisterous when it comes to defending our economic liberties we don’t do as good a job proclaiming our support for civil liberties. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that the progressives generally have a monopoly on the civil liberty conversation, and since we disagree with their definition of the term we tend not to use it at all. Don’t get me wrong, we do a great job of proclaiming our support for such personal liberties as the legalization of prostitution and cannabis, but that tends to work against us when speaking to the Everyman or liberty novice. They’re more comfortable/ familer with topics like race relations, abortion rights & gay marriage when discussing civil liberties. For that reason I’ve compiled a short list of achievements that libertarians have made in the area of civil liberties to set the record straight. We are for personal freedom and civil liberty just as much as we support free markets and economic liberty.
Here are just a few examples of Libertarians protecting and fighting for our civil liberties with regard to social issues….
John Hospers (first Libertarian presidential nominee): Was widely believed to be gay (although not openly so) ran for president of the United States bringing special attention and awareness to LGBTQ rights and marriage equality before it was even national issue, as a major part of his platform. He then began ‘Libertarians for Gay and Lesbian Concerns’ a charitable/ legal organization. The organization held its first national convention in 1985.
Richard Epstein (highly-regarded libertarian lawyer/ legal scholar): has protested, petitioned, and brought legal suit against Texas state for its “Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers”, or TRAP laws. He believes TRAP laws are unconstitutional under established constitutional law and undesirable from a libertarian perspective
Dick Roudolph (L) Alaska: repealed state income tax and saved the Alaska Permanent Fund, a fund designed to be an investment where at least 25% of state owned oil profits would be put into a dedicated fund for future generations to spend on Alaska state infrastructure & other publicly funded programs, when they no longer have oil as a resource.
Bob Barr (2008 libertarian presidential nominee): Supported the Respect for Marriage Act, which was a proposed bill when he served in United States Congress that would have repealed the Defense of Marriage Act and required the U.S. federal government to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages.
Carol Moore (secretary of the Libertarian National Committee): An activist who has been working for years both online and through the LP raising private moneys for low income women & children’s healthcare. She also has a long history as a lobbyist for abortion rights & other reproductive rights initiatives in congress.
Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad (libertarian party of Maryland chairperson): founded the Zakat-Minaret of Freedom Institute, a libertarian 501(c)(3) Islamic-American Foundation, which is charitable organization that primarily serves poor and needy Muslims in the United States obtain education & healthcare. He currently serves as president of the foundation.
Ralph Raico (libertarian national comity chairperson & activist): helped to create the “Libertarian For Gay Rights” caucus, he subsequently published “Gay Rights: A Libertarian Approach”. He also donated large sums of his personal funds to gay rights organizations.
Russell Means (L) South Dakota: led the massive pro-choice libertarian “March for Women’s Lives” November 12, 1989 In the Washington, DC area. He also led the “clinic defense” counter-protests in the ’90s, where libertarians would stand outside women’s health and abortion clinics, getting between abortion prohibitionist fanatics and women seeking to obtain legal medical advice, and usher them inside safely. He also put forth several minority rights/ Native American rights initiatives being a Lakota himself.
Libertarian Party: issued a pamphlet in 1976 calling for an end to antigay laws and endorsing full marriage rights… Actually all Libertarian candidates, including the party’s 1976 presidential nominee, Roger MacBride, have been bravely calling for marriage equality since long before it was politically correct. In fact, they’ve been doing so when it was considered downright dangerous.
The Libertarian Party endorsed gay rights with its first platform in 1972 — the same year the Democratic nominee for Vice President negatively referred to the LGBT community as ‘queers’ in a Chicago speech.
The current problem is that very few Libertarians have been elected to major office (but it’s ok we’re still a fairly new party). The Libertarian party has never even won a seat in the United States Congress. It has seen electoral success in the context of state legislatures and other local offices so they haven’t really been given a chance to show what they can do!