Reply to Gay Marriage Issues
by Mike Seebeck, July 17, 2003
[The following essay in in reply to Ari Armstrong's article, Gay Marriage and Libertarian Leadership.]
I think you make some good and bad points here.
First, to clarify, I only notified the Board and you of the factual errors when I saw them simply because as the LPEP Media Director I have a job responsibility to make sure there is accuracy in the media when they talk about us. If this had been several months ago when I was still on the Board I would simply have called Ms. Lowe myself and that would have been that. But I'm not in that role anymore, so I notified the Board and you so that everyone would be aware of it and it could be dealt with at the proper areas, which in this case is not mine. I don't think Ms. Lowe was getting things wrong on purpose; the Rocky archives have here writing on us several times in the past, so I tend to think it was an honest error.
The good points:
1. I agree that the state should get out of the marriage regulation business. However, until they do so, to reach that goal we should either advocating opening it up as wide open as possible to make the regulations meaningless and more appealing to repeal, or go to the other end and make it as closed as possible to make the regulations hyper-restrictive and make them more appealing to repeal due to public outrage. I don't know which approach would be best, and it isn't relevant here except to point out that we're stuck with the regulations we have until we can get them changed.
2. There is, unfortunately, a hostile attitude towards the press by some Party members. I can understand why to some extent due to some of the negative publicity some of them have given us in the past, but the fact remains that the press is still our best advertising source for now, so it is better to work with them and play nice, even if they tick us off. The saying that you can catch more flies with sugar than vinegar hold very true here.
3. Paul's note to Ms. Lowe should have been done by Desiree or Norm or you, no doubt, and it was too terse. I didn't say anything to Ms. Lowe because it wasn't my place, and it really wasn't Paul's either.
4. There is a need to have policy issues articulated on the web page, or at least a note to contact XYZ on the issue. However, see below.
The bad points:
1. The tendency to be associated with the Party when speaking from a philosophical viewpoint is mostly a discredit attempt by hostile press when they do it deliberately and the rest of the time an honest piece of confusion. This problem has its roots, unfortunately, in part to the 2002 campaign involving a candidate who has since left the Party, claiming at the time that he represented the Party when in fact he did no such thing. Unfortunately that impression and the negative connotations that came with this person stuck since, which has only contributed to the problem. I have no doubt that you didn't call yourself with any official title or sanction of the LPCO. I tend to think it was an honest mistake, especially judging from the terms used in the original article.
2. There is no need to seek sanction from the Board to speak as a libertarian. I regularly disclaim that I don't speak for LPEP or the LPCO Board, and that is a good habit to get into when publicly speaking, just because it clearly delineates who is saying what in what capacity. This also avoids potential liability issues for the Party. The "self-appointed pundits" can still speak, but must do so in a way that keeps the Party out of trouble in both the legal and public image senses.
3. The need for becoming a "respected voice on policy matters" is not as high as a priority as you think. The first problem to overcome to reach that goal is having the bodies to have a properly dispersed voice, and that is where the LPCO is headed. Further, the LP positions are well-laid out even while being incomplete, but that incompleteness cannot be overcome simply because most of the positions are arrived at on a case-by-case basis, and the possibilities there can be infinite. The Board views it as laying the foundation first. We've all seen that without a good foundation we can't do much effectively anyway, so they're working to that end. In the meantime there are others like you and I that are still serving as that voice in our own ways. It also forces the LPCO and it members to be more assertive in making its voice heard, which can only serve to keep us in the minds of the press and public.
Ari Armstrong replies: I did not suggest Seebeck did anything inappropriate, and I do not think he did. Nobody has accused me (that I know of) of trying to represent the LPCO without permission; I think everybody understands the minor error in the News was an unintentional (and innocuous) one. I reply to Seebeck's last point, it isn't enough for the LP to lay out general policies. Instead, if it wants to be a voice in the public debate, it has to apply libertarian ideas to the issues of the day.