Gary Bauer’s Absurd Attempt To Convince Libertarians To Oppose Same-Sex Marriage

A social conservative attempts to argue that same-sex marriage is a threat to liberty, and fails miserably.

In a column this week in Human Events, Gary Bauer, who once headed the socially conservative Family Research Council and ran for President in 2000, argues that libertarians and others who are concerned with individual liberty should oppose same-sex marriage rather than supporting it. Bauer’s argument, it appears, is that expanding the definition of marriage is a threat to individual liberty itself, the problem for him is that his argument is completely lacking in logic and common sense:

Recently, Frank Turek, an employee for computer networking firm Cisco Systems, was fired for authoring a book titled “Correct, not Politically Correct: How Same-Sex Marriage Hurts Everyone.”  Turek had a stellar work record and never talked about his religious or political views on the job.

But after a homosexual manager at Cisco Googled Turek’s name, learned about his views and complained to a human resources professional at Cisco, Turek was immediately fired.

Bauer provides no details about the case beyond these paragraphs, but one can presume that Turek was a regular employee not subject to the terms of a written contract setting forth the circumstances under which he could be fired. One can also presume that whatever Human Resources policies are in effect were followed in his case. Assuming that’s the case, then what’s the problem here? Cisco is a private company and, absent federal laws barring discrimination based on race, religion, gender, age, and national origin, it can hire or fire whoever it wishes for whatever reason it wishes.

As many conservatives have in the past, Sarah Palin for example, Bauer seems to forget that the First Amendment only applies to government action. There is no such thing as a right to say whatever you want on any topic when you’re dealing with a private entity. This is especially true when you are on someone else’s property and working under their employ, where they have a right to set the rules of proper behavior and decorum. The same thing applies to the First Amendment’s religious protections.Cisco apparently decided it did not wish to be associated with a person who authored a book that some might find offensive and they decided to fire him. They had every right to do so regardless of the states of same-sex marriage. Heck, they could have decided to fire him based upon the way he dressed if they wanted to.

Bauer also brings up a case from Canada:

Also recently, Canadian sportscaster Damian Goddard was fired for declaring his opposition to gay marriage.  Rogers Communications fired Goddard after he tweeted his support for Todd Reynolds, a hockey agent, who had earlier voiced his opposition to the activism of Sean Avery , a New York Rangers player who was part of the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign in the lead-up to the same-sex marriage vote in the New York State Legislature.

“I completely and wholeheartedly support Todd Reynolds and his support for the traditional and TRUE meaning of marriage,” the sportscaster wrote.

The analysis here is the same as in the Cisco case. Leaving aside any differences between the law in Canada and the United States, as a matter of principle Goddard has no right to a job and certainly has no right to get on the air and say whatever he wants. His employed decided that what he said was inappropriate and, in the interests of the business, fired him. If Entertainment Contracts in Canada are similar to those in the United States, as a matter of fact, his contract likely contained a provision that allowed the station to fire him if, in its opinion, his on air behavior violated their broadcast standards. There’s a guy named Don Imus who can tell you a lot about how that provision of a contract works.

Bauer then closes his odd little screed with this appeal to libertarians:

All of this would seem to clash with the Libertarian Party’s official position that “Parents, or other guardians, have the right to raise their children according to their own standards and beliefs.”

Most Americans are understandably galvanized by the profound economic threats the country faces.  The vital importance of addressing our fiscal problems is something libertarians and conservatives can agree on.  But conservatives and libertarians can find common ground on issues beyond the economy.

Guided by the “minimum government, maximum freedom” ethos, libertarians should realize where their support for same-sex marriage will lead.  The society gay-rights activists envision would destroy the very values libertarians claim to extol.

This is, of course, fundamentally silly. When you get right down to it, the real libertarian position on marriage would be that the government should have no role in defining what marriage is to begin with. If consenting adults wish to enter into such a relationship, they should be free to do so without seeking the permission or approval of the state. However, as long as the state does license marriage and, more importantly, as long as the state provides special benefits to the status of marriage that are unavailable to unmarried couples, then it should not be permitted to discriminate among couples merely on the basis on the gender of the participants. As Judge Vaughn Walker ruled last year in the Proposition 8 case, there simply is no rational basis for such a distinction. To claim that one supports individual liberty and oppose the right of gays and lesbians to marry is, quite clearly, logically inconsistent. Anyone who follows Bauer’s advice is a fool.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Law and the Courts, Religion, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Chad S says:

    I just don’t get how letting gay people get married could possibly effect someone else’s personal rights. No church is forced to perform a gay marriage, yet there’s all sorts of arguments saying that Gay rights/marriage someone will “destroy” christianity.

  2. Barb Hartwell says:

    I heard some right wing wacko spouting out that marriage should be between a man and a woman because of procreation. If this is what it is then would the couples who choose not to have children be breaking the law in those states? Should birth control be banned also? Of all the stupid laws to keep harping on this takes the cake. Let the gays have the same rights as all Americans and mind your own business. We have so many more important things in this country to care about.

  3. Rob in CT says:

    @Barb Hartwell:

    It’s all about showing disapproval (via the government) of icky gays.

    Granted, some of these wackjobs likely would like to ban contraception, but they know they can’t win on that. They’re going to lose here too. The tide is now clearly running against them, and they’re getting desperate.

    Trying to convince libertarians of this is pretty funny, though. Hah. Hahahahaha! Imagine trying to sell this to Radley Balko (for instance). Yeah. Hahahahahaha!

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    Since when has anything Gary Bauer said not been absurd?

  5. An Interested Party says:

    The desperation of fighting for a lost cause and/or a losing argument often causes people to put forth views that lack logic and common sense…

  6. Nightrider says:

    “As many conservatives have in the past, Sarah Palin for example, Bauer seems to forget that the First Amendment only applies to government action. ” — Not exactly. It is that they have trouble remembering that any part of the Constitution protects values that are different from their own. Government intrusion is fine so long as it is promoting their values. Limits on government are necessary whenever the the government would promote someone else’s.

    This isn’t necessarily a “conservative” trait, and liberals can do the same kind of thing too. But ut sure is really common these days amongst the morons currently dominating the Republican Fox News party.

  7. Franklin says:

    Let’s say I hold that religious belief, as some do, that people shouldn’t take medicine. Now tell me, should I work at a hospital? And if a hospital refused to hire me, Mr. Bauer apparently thinks they are imposing on my liberty. I don’t think he understands even the basic tenets of libertarianism.

  8. Reminds of people that say that hate crimes legislation is a violation of their right to freedom of religion, which makes no sense unless their religion requires that they kill homosexuals.

  9. Barry says:

    @Ron Beasley: And when was the last time that Human Events said something which wasn’t BS, lies or evil?

  10. Civis says:

    Apparently, no one here has ever heard of the Frankfurt school of Marxism. All I see in these comments is sound and fury. As clever as you all think you are, you are not. Frankfurt School

  11. An Interested Party says:

    So, SSM is part of the evil Communist/Marxist plot? For real? Couldn’t you have come up with a more original, less stale argument?