Thursday, October 25, 2007

His chance to put up.

Some of the true believers in Ron Paul have insisted that he supports the right of gay people to serve in the military on the same terms as everyone else. This in spite of him calling the policy that excludes gays "a decent policy". When asked about the policy in one debate he rambled on about group rights which is not the issue here. It is not claiming special rights but equal rights and libertarians are supposed to support that -- well libertarians do. The question is whether Ron Paul does.

In his debate answer he went into a diversion about how anyone who is disruptive should be excluded from the military. Who would disagree but then Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the policy that excludes gays, is not about disruption at all. A completely non-disruptive gay person can be thrown out of the military if someone discovers he is gay. At the same time a disruptive heterosexual would not be excluded under the policy. It was never about disruption.

In the public debates Paul has not said anything about gays serving on equal terms in the military and when a reporter, at one debate, asked the Republican candidates to raise their hand if any of them would support that right, Ron Paul looked at the floor and held his hands firmly to his side. Of course, off of national television he can sound very different. Politicians are good at that. In some private discussions he has sounded as if he would support allowing gays to serve in the military. To be precise he sounds that way when when someone who supports equality before the law questions him. So does or doesn't he? Is he a libertarian on this issue or conservative?

There is a bill in Congress to repeal Clinton's Don't Ask, Don't Tell, H.R.1246. It grants no special rights. It merely says the military can't chuck someone out over being gay. Of course they can still chuck out anyone who is disruptive in the real sense of the word. This legislation has 136 co-sponsors. But Ron Paul is not one of them.

I won't believe that Mr. Paul is actually taking a libertarian position on equality before the law until he signs on to repeal this anti-libertarian policy. I confess that I would be surprised if he did, and slightly impressed. I don't think he really has it in him. But time will tell. The bill doesn't raise taxes, it's not unconstitutional, it doesn't grant any special rights. So I can't think of any libertarian excuse to not be a co-sponsor. But I won't underestimate the ability of some people to be creative in such matters -- and that is especially true of politicians no matter who they are.

I would like to see some of his genuine libertarian supporters ask him if he will co-sponsor H.R. 1246. A simple yes or no response will do. I suspect he'll give answers about how he has to investigate it, blah, blah, blah. That is merely diversionary and an attempt to avoid the issue. I say that because the bill was introduced last February. There has been plenty of time to research it. And he has been asked about the issue several times, including in debates, so it's not just some issue that no one is interested in. As a presidential candidate he should know about the policy and the act (though his answer in the debate indicated he had no idea what the policy actually said).

The bill is not long and merely says that the government will treat people who are gay, straight or bisexual the same. It grants no privileges or benefits. It doesn't cost taxpayer money and, in fact, will save millions spent to chuck out gay people. It is about as libertarian a bill as you can expect from government. It just says the government should leave people alone in this one area. So will Ron Paul cosponsor the bill? I would say the odds are against it.

Now I know many of the Paulists will complain because I dared have a negative comment about their beloved Saint Paul. Sorry folks but don't complain to me. Just ask your candidate to give a firm answer on whether he will support the repeal of this very unlibertarian policy. He has refused to support it over the last eight months. And based on his refusal, so far, to support the bill, I think it is fair to say that his position on equality of rights before the law for gay people is a negative one. He doesn't support such equality. All those claims to the contrary are just so much hot air as long as Paul is refusing to actually sign on to the bill.

Paul can prove he supports such a equality very easily, with almost no effort at all. And I think it fair to assume that his refusal to do so, so far, indicates his actual position, no matter what he might say when he thinks it will win him a vote. I won't be holding my breath for the press release that he signed on to the bill.

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