Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Discriminating Legislation

Once again the ugliness of state sponsored discrimination rears it's draconian head in the mid-West. Indiana's legislature has decided to once again pursue an amendment to their state Constitution that would ban same sex marriages at all levels, civil and religious, despite existing law which already bans same sex marriage. It is also an amendment which would imperil private businesses ability to grant benefits to their employees.
Provides that marriage in Indiana consists only of the union of one man and one woman. Provides that Indiana law may not be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

The state Senate has already approved the measure and has passed it onto the Indiana House for further action. The gay community is understandably upset by this, as are civil libertarians who can see this measure for what it is, discrimination against a segment of the population via political means.

Many think this bill is likely to die in the House, but with the outpouring of bipartisan support in the state Senate it is not unlikely that it could pass. The oddest of things is that same sex marriage is already illegal in Indiana. The laws of this state are rather clear on the matter and the gay community is not only aware of the law, they are obedient to and reasonably accepting of the established law, for the moment. The proposed amendment, which would allow the masses to vote against a minority is a different matter entirely.

I, like many libertarians hold the viewpoint that the state really has no business telling people who may or may not marry and should not grant favours based upon marital status. It's strictly between the interested parties, (and, on occasion their employers) . Unfortunately, the state does not feel the same way, nor do their supporters and so we are stuck with state sanctioned, sanctified and permitted marriage, like it or not. Marriage has become a political issue and, in the case of same sex marriages one which has all too often placed in the arena of mob rule of late.

What I find especially irritating about the matter at hand this go around ,is the silence on the bill from the Libertarian Party of Indiana. Apparently legislated discrimination is of less importance to the state party than a sales tax holiday, jury service exemptions or other bills currently before the legislature. So far there has been no comment from them. Oh, there has been some commentary from individual libertarians in the state, but no firm stance from the political party and that's unconscionable, given the nature of the bill.

One of the purposes of a political party is to address hot political issues and there are few which are hotter than this amendment. Add into that the fact that the gay and lesbian community are, for all intents and purposes a politically homeless constituency and this would seem to be a heaven sent opportunity for the LP in Indiana to come down on the right side. Saying that the state has no place in marriage is all well and good, but it does not put an end to the issue, nor does it excuse you from taking a stance and choosing a side. Ignoring a hot button issue for political expediency or to preserve some image is cowardice and the political arena should not be peopled with fair weather friends. That's an attitude which has already led us far along the path to ruin.

Political libertarians should be in the forefront of any battle which pits the state against individuals. Here we have a proposed law which would enshrine unequal treatment under the "rule of law" and the one political organisation which you might think would stand opposed to such an act is woefully silent. Libertarians miss too many opportunities, especially in the political arena where friends could be made. Politically minded libertarians often bemoan their lack of growth as a political party and look for new constituencies to reach out to. Well, here's your chance folks.

“He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he had failed.” -William James

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