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    March 27, 2008

    Walking contradiction for president

    Posted by: Chris

    Bob_barr The man responsible for the most homophobic law ever passed by Congress is weighing a run for president as a Libertarian, despite that party's longtime claim to being strongly supportive of gay rights.

    When Bob Barr was a Republican congressman from Georgia, he authored and was the chief sponsor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which blocks any federal recognition of gay couples married by the states, as well as allowing each state to refuse to recognizes marriage licenses issued to gay couples by other states.

    Barr has always been a walking contradiction, defending the institution of marriage from gays even as he divorced his first two wives and is now on his third; he is also an ardent foe of abortion rights even though he supported a decision by his wife at the time to terminate a pregnancy. There are individual rights Barr does care about -- he's a longtime board member of the National Rifle Association.

    Since leaving Congress in 2003, Barr has become active on privacy issues -- no, not the Roe v. Wade, Lawrence v. Texas kind. He's spoken out against the Patriot Act, joined the national board of did consulting work for the ACLU, and even testified against a federal marriage amendment -- based on states' rights grounds.

    Libertarians have a strong reputation on gay rights, including support gay marriage (or junking legal recognition for all relationships entirely) and repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell." But they do oppose workplace protections (for any minority group) and hate crime laws (for any minority group.)

    Barr would appear to be a very conservative peg in the Libertarian hole, but his candidacy could have a very significant benefit for gay rights -- siphoning off support for Republican John McCain, who remains unpopular with many conservatives.

    Barr's chief opponent for the Libertarian presidential nomination may be former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, one of two Democratic presidential candidates who backed full marriage equality, who quit his party to join the Libertarian race. Gravel's gay marriage support is a better fir with the Libertarian platform, but his support for gay rights protections in the workplace and against hate crimes is not.

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    Comments

    1. Brian Miller on Mar 27, 2008 2:15:42 PM:

      This is a completely inaccurate framing of the Libertarian race.

      First of all, neither Barr nor Gravel are declared candidates for the Libertarian nomination. Presently, the front runners for the nomination are George Phillies and Wayne Allyn Root.

      George Phillies was endorsed by Outright Libertarians, the LGBT Libertarian lobby (of which I am a board member). Phillies is a strong supporter of gay rights, including equality in marriage, adoption, military service, immigration and taxation.

      A professor of physics at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, he's also the chair of the local branch of the ACLU.

      He is also by far the best-funded candidate in the race to date, with over $200,000 in funds raised and committed to his campaign.

      Our party will be moving into its nomination process with our national convention in May in Denver.

      While I appreciate a focus on Libertarian Party candidates, I would hope that your future coverage would be more accurate and focus on declared, funded candidates -- rather than idle speculation about who "may" run. The scorecard for most of the nominees who are FEC-registered is quite good -- distinctly superior to the Democrats and Republicans in the race. You can see that scorecard at http://www.outrightusa.org.

    1. blewsdawg Rick Caldwell on Mar 27, 2008 4:47:04 PM:

      Brian is right. George Phillies is the front runner. Root is a distant second. Due to his fiscal socialism, Gravel's chances are Slim and none. And Slim was seen leaving the building.

      Barr is something of an enigma, though. Since leaving Congress, Barr has turned libertarian in a big way. Thing is, I think it's genuine. He hasn't just given his old, Buchanan-style conservatism the libertarian label. He is citing libertarian principle at every turn these days.

      Furthermore, he is actively pursuing the reversal of bills he sponsored/authored personally during his time in Congress. He has been working especially hard on dismantling a drug law named after him.

    1. JS on Mar 27, 2008 9:26:45 PM:

      "There are individual rights Barr does care about"

      Yes. His own.

    1. CLS on Mar 27, 2008 9:54:16 PM:

      Brian Miller got his facts wrong. Gravel has said he is seeking the presidential nomination contrary to what Mr. Miller thought.

      Root is not good on gay marriage rights and is basically as conservative as Barr. Phillies, while decent on gay issues, is not good on immigration. He also misses entirely the campaign of Mary Ruwart who is decent on gay issues and on issues like immigraiton. Dr. Ruwart is good on the issues where Barr, Gravel, Phillies and Root are good and also good on the issues where they are not.

      Mr Caldwell is wrong to say “Phillies is the front runner”. I think he is basing that on money in campaign chest, most of which came from Phillies himself. Polls of delegates showed, prior to her announcement, that Ruwart was the favorite if she ran. She was well ahead of the sleep-inducing Phillies and the brash, abrasive Root.

      I am disappointed that Outright Libertarians stupidly endorsed a candidate when it was clear that more candidates would be announcing. They endorse prematurely and should reconsider.

    1. Ruth Bennett on Mar 28, 2008 1:52:16 AM:

      While I have had some reservations about Mr. Barr as a Libertarian, I have to say that I am increasingly impressed. He has said that if legislation is introduced in Congress to repeal DOMA that he will lobby to get DOMA tossed. Now it's up to the Democrats to step up and introduce such legislation!

    1. Brian Miller on Mar 28, 2008 6:50:26 PM:

      "Gravel has said he is seeking the presidential nomination contrary to what Mr. Miller thought."

      I, Brian Miller, hereby announce my candidacy for the Libertarian Presidential nomination!

      There you go. I'm now a contender, right?

      Wrong.

      Real candidacies have money. Real candidacies declare their intent with the party. Real candidacies file with the FEC and declare their intent.

      Gravel has done none of this, yet.

      Reporting him and Barr as the only two candidates in the LP race, when one hasn't started a real campaign and the other hasn't even announced, isn't reporting on the truth when there are two well-funded front-runners already in the race.

      Pretending otherwise is irresponsible.

    1. CLS on Apr 2, 2008 4:35:06 AM:

      Ruth" Are you confusing Barr's opposition to "don't ask, don't tell" with his views on DOMA?

    1. Mike Blessing on May 23, 2008 1:21:27 AM:

      Not everyone in the Libertarian Party is thrilled with the Barr campaign.

      If you decide to interview Barr, ask him about the Bob Barr Leadership Fund giving three thousand bucks to Friends of John Sununu (Sununu's re-election fund), while not giving anything to Ken Blevens, the Libertarian candidate in the same race.

      The page from the FEC disclosure database

      All of this while he was a sitting member of the Libertarian National Committee.

      His response to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution?

      "I won't be cross-examined" about the fund's finances, he said.

      See this article.

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