presidential candidate Ron Paul aggressively opposes the
Iraq war, the war on drugs, the Patriot Act, and
numerous actions of the Federal Reserve.
Unfortunately, many say he feels the same way about gay
Paul is a
Libertarian-leaning Texas congressman who has recently
party-crashed the neoconservative movement from within the
GOP. An aggressive antiestablishment speaker who is
frequently cited as the most Internet-savvy candidate,
Paul has gained a proactive fan base that
has made him a leader in Web searches, YouTube views, and
many Republican straw polls. His grassroots
supporters, many of them young technology aficionados,
have launched what has become known as the "Ron
Paul revolution" -- and they helped him pull in
$6 million on December 16, the largest fund-raising
day for any presidential candidate in U.S. history.
cult-like following is largely the result of his proximity
to Libertarian and Constitutionalist politics. He ran
for president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1988,
winning little media attention but plenty of
Libertarian street cred. As a GOP congressman, Paul has
earned the nickname Dr. No because of his career
as an obstetrician and his refusal to vote for
anything not specifically sanctioned by the
Constitution -- including the Iraq war and the Patriot Act.
Often portrayed as a Libertarian in Republican
disguise, he still upholds the majority of the
Libertarian platform and has the support of many
"Libertarians strongly oppose any government
interfering in their personal, family and business
decisions," reads the Libertarian website.
"Essentially, we believe all Americans should be free
to live their lives and pursue their interests as they
see fit as long as they do no harm to another. In a
nutshell, we are advocates for a smaller government, lower
taxes and more freedom."
Does this desired
freedom extend to gays? Since its inception, the party
has had a strong LGBT caucus and several LGBT activist
groups. Although Paul is fervently laissez-faire and
would be delighted to do away with the vast
majority of government departments and programs, the
issue of gay rights is where he parts company with most
of his Libertarian brethren.
Although Paul has
defended the right of gays to serve in the military and
voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, he has praised
the federal Defense of Marriage Act, voted against
funds to assist gay couples in adopting children in
the District of Columbia, and defended "don't
ask, don't tell." To many observers, the
latter positions are the definition of
anti-Libertarianism. (He could not vote for DOMA
because he was not in Congress at the time, but he has said
he would have voted for it.)
Paul has also
come under recent scrutiny for receiving endorsements and
donations from bigots such as Don Black, proprietor of the
white supremacist online forum Stormfront. The
Anti-Defamation League has called on Paul to
distance himself from hate groups. "If he doesn't do
that, then we will decide what we're going to say publicly
about it," Steven Freeman, the ADL's assistant director of
civil rights, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Paul
weakly countered this criticism by pointing out that
he doesn't screen his 57,000 daily donations,
and he said he would keep Black's $500 donation
because Black would have less money to spend on his
voting record is likewise dubious. "Paul always calls
himself a conservative. He never calls himself a
Libertarian -- and he is telling the truth,"
says Libertarian presidential hopeful George Phillies (the
party will choose its candidate at its
national convention in May). "The main
threat of his platform is not that it will be enacted -- he
is in sixth place in the polls. The main threat is
that people will confuse his platform with decent
Libertarian stands. Real Libertarians abhor homophobic
bigotry -- 'don't ask, don't tell,' blocking gay marriage,
blocking gay adoptions."
offers an uncompromising stance on equal rights regardless
of sexual orientation or gender identity -- with
sexual rights in the Libertarian platform for more
than three decades," says Rob Power, who chairs
Outright Libertarians, a gay group within the party, and
supports Phillies's candidacy. "Paul's
ideology is socially
conservative/traditionalist/federalist. It's not
really Libertarian because it still supports
government control over individual lives -- merely at
the state, not federal, level. Paul is likable and
principled, but his principles are biblical, not
Libertarian or even Constitutionalist, because he
ignores the 14th Amendment's equal protection
But some still
feel Paul's commitment to freedom is genuine. Eric
Duare, a gay Paul supporter and registered Republican
who has described the Libertarian Party as
"futile" on account of its failure to break
through to a mainstream audience, defends
Paul's adoption vote, saying it was not a vote
against adoptions by gays but a vote against federal
funds for them.
bother me if he were taking an antigay, discriminatory
stance, but he was not," Duare says.
"Paul has stated that he voted against the bill
not because it could affect gays, but because the federal
government has no constitutional authority to spend
money promoting adoption -- or defaming it either. He
said he would have voted against any bill that did
this, with or without the 'related by blood or
marriage' language, and I believe his record
bears him out."
Libertarians and their philosophical cousins, the Ron Paul
debate is one of purism versus pragmatism. The purists view
Paul as an ideologically corrupted Libertarian and
believe a vote for him is a vote against civil rights.
The pragmatists acknowledge that while Paul slacks off
on LGBT issues, he has received far more support than any
Libertarian candidate and thus is worth the
ideological negotiation. The idea is to let Paul
secure Libertarian ideals in the mainstream's
consciousness and to work out the details later.
Rocco Fama, vice
president of the New York State chapter of Stonewall
Libertarians, another gay group, has yet to decide if he
will endorse Paul. He says he doesn't agree
with Paul's gay adoption vote but believes Paul
would never vote to ban adoptions by gays nationwide. Like
many Libertarians, Fama applauds the progress Paul has
made in bringing several issues to the masses, even
though he doesn't agree with all of Paul's platform.
"As a Republican, Ron Paul brings Libertarian ideas
to a platform that LP candidates have no access
to," Fama says.
Yet many still
refuse to compromise gay rights.
his stands on the issue," says Phillies, "They
are anti-Libertarian to the core."