For reasons that only the gods can divine, some people insist on thinking that Sen. Rand Paul’s libertarianism is a good thing for the LGBT community. In part, that’s because of Paul’s stated opposition to a national law banning marriage equality, which he warned conservatives would be a losing battle. In part, it’s also because Paul sounds reasonable when he says that Republicans can agree to disagree about marriage equality.
But does this sound reasonable?
“I believe in the historic and religious definition of marriage. I also believe this power belongs to the states and the people, not the federal government. It is illegitimate for the federal courts to intrude here.”
That’s Paul speaking on Tuesday to defend Kentucky’s ban on marriage equality. He had been taking heat from religious conservatives for not speaking out sooner about the federal court ruling ordering Kentucky to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. Paul obliged them with rhetoric that they would adore.
Paul’s statement is more radical than it appears at first glance (as are many things about Paul). Paul is saying that the federal government has no role in ensuring the rights of citizens if states decide to discriminate. Even if that discrimination violates the U.S. Constitution, the federal courts should butt out. In other words, Paul would create a system where states would be able to discriminate for as long as they wish.
Paul is planning a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, and by some accounts is the current front runner. And the so-called new thinker is doing his best to suck up to some of the biggest homophobes in the GOP universe. He is suddenly identifying himself as “Christian” at every chance he gets. Last month he spoke at a conference convened by the American Principles Project, a far-right group for whom anti-marriage activist Maggie Gallagher serves as a fellow. “Libertarian and liberty doesn’t mean libertine,” Paul told the group, defending traditional family values.
Nobody who truly believes in anything remotely pro-LGBT would appear before a group that thinks Maggie Gallagher has the intellectual chops to be labeled a fellow. But then, Paul and Maggie are kindred spirits. After the Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA, Paul suggested that the decision may have cleared the way for people to marry animals.
Paul’s had plenty of chances to prove us wrong, and he keeps failing them. Most recently, he was asked point blank whether he supported Arizona’s right-to-discriminate bill. All Paul could answer was “Let me get back to you.” In other words, Paul doesn’t want to be seen in the mainstream media as a bigot because it would hurt his image. But he has no problem pandering to the homophobic right when the mainstream press isn’t around.
So the next time you hear someone talk about Paul as a moderating influence in the Republican party, don’t be fooled. He can be as homophobic as the next right-winger. Just because he uses liberty to cloak his rhetoric, it still has the same effect. As far as Rand Paul’s concerned, we’re second-class citizens.