Cato executive vice-president David Boaz is standing on a chair clapping and congratulating President Obama for his pro same-sex marriage stand. He tells Politico:
Congratulations to the president for getting on the right side of this generation's civil rights struggle. He can be an important leader for equality under the law.That this comes from senior executive of a supposedly libertarian institution is shocking, but, then again, given the rumors of what else has gone on at that place, maybe not.
But of course, this announcement does raise questions. Was he telling the truth to voters in 2008 when he said, "I believe that marriage is between a man and woman and I am not in favor of gay marriage" and when he told voters in 2004 that "My religious faith dictates marriage is between a man and a woman, gay marriage is not a civil right"? Or when he told voters in 1996, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages"? Has he been wrestling with a conflict between his religious faith and his belief in the Constitution, or just with conflicting political pressures?
Nevertheless, he's in the right place now. And he says he's been "evolving," so we know he sees his new position as the evolved one. Good for him.
First, it may not be wise for a supposed libertarian to call the state getting in the middle of consensual sex, as "this generation's civil rights struggle," since the government getting in the middle of the last "civil rights struggle" is a continuing disaster (see LBJ's Great Grandkids).
Government law for same-sex marriage is really nothing but the expansion of government control across a spectrum of people, who had at least one small corner of freedom. The "equality under the law" that Boaz cheers is a twisted use of that phrase. Gays have "equality under the law," in the common way the term is used. Gays have a right to be represented by a lawyer in a court of law, to be free from self-incrimination, to a jury trial, to own property, etc.
When Boaz writes of "equality under the law", he must be thinking of the heavy hand of government setting the terms of a relationship, setting the terms of adoption rules of private agencies and setting the terms for handouts for those who fall in line and marry in front of the state. All this is, of course, what true libertarians should rebel against. For a libertarian, snaring more people into the government trap is not to be cheered, calling for people to be removed from the claws of government is what libertarianism should be about. What is Boaz thinking?
What is going on at Cato?