Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bob Barr feels the heat so he lies.

I understand that the fake libertarian, Bob Barr, is feeling some heat for his record of antigay bigotry. As a result he supposedly released a letter via his pimp, Steve Gordon. I have yet to see the letter but a source I trust quoted it as claiming that Barr authored his disgusting Defense of Marriage Act “in order to short circuit the Republican Party’s power move to ban gay marriage on the Constitutional level. My plan worked. States maintain their rights in relation to same-sex marriage and civil unions.”

Pardon my language but this is utter and complete bullshit. Let us dissect the several lies that Barr has packed into this one statement.

First, Barr did not stop a move to ban gay marriage on the Constitutional level. The reality is that the Republicans never came close to changing the federal constitution to include this hateful statement. At no point was a federal constitutional ban likely. Barr is lying about the threat that existed. True, Barr’s party used antigay rhetoric to rile up the fundamentalist nutters but Barr helped them in that. But support for a constitutional amendment never reached the level where such a measure was at all likely. Barr was not standing up to that bigotry. He was playing up to it. He was using it to further his own career by appealing to antigay bigots.

Next, Barr’s main purpose was to restrict the federal government from granting any rights of any kind to gay people. The so-called “state’s rights” issue, which is conservative not libertarian, was only one facet of the bill. Barr took the legislation much farther than protecting the alleged rights of states. His bill said: “The Federal Government may not treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.”

Barr testified before Congress in 2004 about his legislation. He said he was “a proud conservative” worried about “basic moral norms” and “creeping ‘contextual morality’”. He says because of these concerns he authored the Defense of Marriage Act. He said: “For the purposes of federal law only, DOMA codified marriage as a heterosexual union.” True, it left the states in the same position they have always be in -- able to write their own marriage laws. But Barr’s goal was to force the federal government to recognize only straight relationships.

Please note that this was a shackle on federal recognition of the equality of rights for gay couples. We have covered how that legislation means gay couples are taxed at higher rates than straight couples with the same income. The reason is that the federal government can’t do otherwise because of Bob Barr’s bill.

We have discussed how gay Americans are forced into exile overseas if they wish to live with their foreign partner. The reason is that the federal government is forbidden to treat gay couples as they would straight couples so the gay foreign partner is not recognized as being in a relationship -- no matter how long that relationship has lasted. Barr’s law forces the federal government to treat homosexuals like second class citizens when it comes to immigration.

Recently a gay man married his partner in Massachusetts where gay marriage is legal. He legally changed his name to reflect a combination of the two names reflecting his status as married. But he was denied a passport with his married name and the federal government specifically said they were doing this because of Bob Barr’s bill.

Note that all these results have NOTHING to do with the alleged rights of states. It was mandatory discrimination on the federal level that Bob Barr pushed for and got. Bob Barr is an attorney and he knows what his bill was meant to do. By focusing on one aspect of it he and ignoring the rest of the bill he is dishonestly selling a lie to libertarians.

Now let us ask about this so-called right of the states to act in a bigoted manner. What Barr is arguing, and what conservatives like him argue, is that the states have the right to violate equality before the law. Social conservatives whine about federal tyranny and then whine when they can’t have tyranny at the state level.

The state’s rights argument is bogus from a libertarian perspective. States may have constitutional powers but states don’t have rights. Governments can’t have rights. Only people have rights. And what Barr wanted was to make sure that the states could continue to violate the rights of gay people to equal protection before the law. A real libertarian says that the states don’t have legitimate authority to violate individual rights. Barr’s position is that the states do have such authority and he was acting to protect that.

Next ask yourself why Barr introduced this legislation. Social conservatives had terrified fundamentalist voters with the gay monster lurking to destroy their families. They told them that without action a judge in San Francisco or some other “liberal” haven could change the law unilaterally and “ram gay marriage” down the throats of good Christian America. To counter this so called threat Barr authored his bill. His goal was to prevent a judicial review of discriminatory marriage laws as applied to homosexuals. The whole purpose of the legislation was to stop gay marriage. Now he makes it sound as if he was trying to preserve the ability of states to allow gay marriage.

In his testimony Barr said he was protecting federalism and allowing states to make their own laws. He acknowledged that might mean they would make “bad decisions”. By that he seemed to imply gay marriage was a bad decision. I think that is precisely what he meant. He also argued that actions by local governments or by the Massachusetts Supreme Court granting rights to gay couples “were wrong because they took the decision-making process out of the hands of the people.” So his federalism doesn’t mean the political process deciding it actually means a popular vote on whether or not a minority ought to have rights. Apparently Mr. Barr thinks rights are anything the majority likes.

Mr Barr now claims that marriage ought not be a matter of government. But what he proposed was even worse. “Matters of great importance, such as marriage, need to reflect he will of the people....” So the will of the majority should determine marriage. That isn’t taking marriage out of the hands of government. That is making private relationships a matter of the will of the majority. Under Barr’s logic interracial marriages would have remained illegal and interracial couples would have faced incarceration for loving one another.

Barr laid it out clear. He does not want gay couples to have equal rights before the law. I quote his testimony: “To be clear, I am absolutely not a supporter of granting marriage rights for same-sex couples any sort of legal recognition...” That is not libertarian. He argued that marriage should be regulated by the will of the people and he argued that gay couples should not have “any sort of legal recognition” at all.

What does it mean when you say they should not have any sort of legal recognition. It would mean that gay couples couldn’t own property jointly. It would mean that if one of them were hospitalized the other could be banned from visitation because he is not a relative. It would mean that gays get taxed at higher rates. It would mean that they can’t be with their partners under many circumstances. Straight people can’t be forced to testify against their spouse in court. Gay couples can be forced to testify against each other. Barr was clear. He said he doesn’t want “any sort of legal recognition” for gay couples. That means zero recognition, nothing, nada, zilch.

Barr says, “I oppose any marriage save that between one man and one woman.” How rich. In Barr’s case that is marriage between one man and one woman, then another woman, and then another woman. Yet this hypocrite wanted to lecture the country on the moral decline of marriage.

Barr is distorting the facts about his legislation and trying to justify his bigotry. If his legislation was good enough reason to doubt his libertarian principles his lying about the legislation is reason enough to doubt his integrity. His testimony was clear. He proposed this law to make sure that gay couples have NO rights at the federal level. And he expressed his wishes for the states: that no rights, of any kind, ever be granted to any gay couple for any reason. And that is the bullshit that he and his pimp are trying to sell as libertarianism. It’s bad enough he is an antigay bigot but it is disgusting he now lying about it.

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