Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pennsylvania Libertarian Alliance Applauds ACLU Lawsuit Seeking Full Marriage Equality For Pennsylvania Couples

Thomas Robert Stevens, the State Chair of the Pennsylvania Libertarian Alliance, applauded the decision of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania to file a federal lawsuit today in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on behalf of 21 Pennsylvanians who wish to marry in Pennsylvania or want the Commonwealth to recognize their out-of-state marriages.

In a statement issued on July 9, 2013, Dr. Stevens said:

Marriage Equality is one of the major civil rights issues of our generation. As long as the government is involved in licensing marriages and granting benefits to heterosexual couples, I believe the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution will eventually be interpreted and should be interpreted to require states to end all discrimination against gay couples who choose to get married. The federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU today (Whitewood v. Corbett) hits the mark by arguing that Pennsylvania's Defense of Marriage Act and Pennsylvania's refusal to marry lesbian and gay couples or recognize their out-of-state marriages violates the fundamental right to marry as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

As the current County Chair of the Northampton County Libertarian Party, I am particularly proud that two of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit are Edwin Hill and David Palmer of Bangor, which is in Northampton County. The plaintiffs in this federal lawsuit are a diverse lot and include an emergency room doctor, a nurse, a teacher, university professors, a truck driver, a psychologist, retirees, lawyers, a dog trainer, state employees, an artist, a stay-at-home mom, and veterans. They are African-American, Caucasian, Latino, and Asian; they are Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Quaker, Jewish, Buddhist, and secular. What they share in common is that they are being denied by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania the basic rights that are afforded to all married couples.

I am optimistic this lawsuit will be successful since denying Marriage Equality to same-sex couples in Pennsylvania does not further any legitimate government interest. 

Matthew Kelly, Vice-Chair of the Pennsylvania Libertarian Alliance, said:

When Dr. Tom Stevens was State Chair of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania (April 22, 2012 to April 5, 2013), Marriage Equality for all Pennsylvanians was one of his top priorities. He worked closely with the Legislative Action Committee to make sure this issue remained as one of its top three priorities. As a result, he faced extraordinary opposition by those who hid their anti-gay hatred and homophobia by arguing that the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania should not support Marriage Equality for gay couples and that instead it should simply push for the government to get out of the marriage business. However, those same people did not advocate for an end to government benefits for heterosexual couples nor did they seek a cancellation of the licenses granted to those couples.

Although you might not expect it of self-identified Libertarians, I have personally witnessed an extreme and disturbing amount of homophobia and anti-gay sentiment in the Libertarian Party. The core of Libertarian Philosophy is the Non-Aggression Principle and it simply means you do not believe in using force to achieve political or social goals. It does not mean, however, that said Libertarians are not prejudiced, racist, homophobic or anti-Semitic. They can be that and still be Libertarians. Not everyone who claims to be a Libertarian holds a live-and-let-live attitude. Many, especially some rabid, religious fundamentalists, are on a crusade to save the world by doing everything in their power to deny equal rights for G.L.B.T. individuals and a good number of these extremists are active members of the Libertarian Party. 

I served as LPPA Membership Committee Chair until July 6, 2013 (during part of the administration of Dr. Stevens and during the entire term of office of LPPA State Chair Lawrence James Fryman). During my involvement, I observed members and leaders in the LPPA make the suggestion over and over again that gay men are pedophiles, that they are sick, demented perverts and that their mere existence in the Libertarian Party needs to be stamped out due to their conduct going against the natural order of things. This conduct and these opinions are reprehensible and have no place in civilized society. The more progress gays make toward equality, the hatred expressed and acted on behind the scenes against G.L.B.T. individuals increases. One must be vigilant to identify such homophobia and to aggressively confront it. 

The Pennsylvania Libertarian Alliance was founded by Dr. Tom Stevens on March 4, 2013. It exists to promote libertarian principles and policies in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

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