Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Libertarians applaud steps toward marriage equality

America’s third largest party Monday praised officials in Iowa, Vermont and the District of Columbia for taking recent steps toward marriage equality, and urged legislators in all states to scrap government licensing, taxation and regulation of marriage.

“The government’s power to define marriage has historically been used as a tool to retaliate against minority groups, and the right to marry is the newest frontier of civil rights. Libertarians everywhere applaud this advancement of civil rights, but warn the only way to guarantee true marriage equality is to get government out of the question entirely,” said Catherine Sumner, LBGT policy advisor for the Libertarian National Committee.

“Removing government from the equation entirely allows gay and lesbian couples to enter into the same legal agreements and arrangement as heterosexual couples, and it would allow individuals and businesses to decide for themselves who to grant the benefits of marriage to,” said Sumner. “No individual, straight, gay or lesbian, should be forced to accept someone else’s definition of marriage.”

On April 3 the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the state’s “one man, one woman” definition of marriage violates the state constitution’s equal protection clause. On April 7, Vermont’s state legislature overrode Gov. Jim Douglas’ veto of a marriage equality bill, nine years after the state was the first to allow civil unions. The next day the District of Columbia City Council, which allows domestic partnerships, voted to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere, with an expected final vote coming May 5.

“The power to define is the power to discriminate. There’s a reason why the government doesn’t decide who can be baptized, who can be ordained, who can receive Communion or who can celebrate a Bar Mitzvah. Libertarians think the same should apply to marriage, and seek to end all government intervention, licensing and taxation of marriage,” said Sumner.

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