Jeff Ober in NC State House District 95 took the time not only to respond, but to place his responses on his website.
About abortion and stem cell research, questions that I raised yesterday, Jeff gives solid Libertarian answers. Different answers than I would give, but soundly reasoned answers.
With respect to gay marriage, this Christian Libertarian offers an answer, however, that I think is incorrect--if only because Jeff apparently hasn't done enough research to understand why this answer is simply factually incorrect:
I have discussed this issue with many people over the years and have heard many viewpoints and positions. Primarily my objection to state-approved gay marriages is that they do not have any effect on, well, much of anything. I do not believe that being married gives anyone any rights, so being opposed to gay marriage has nothing to do with gay rights. I think that rights (the few we have left) apply to all people. If you want someone to have power of attorney, you just draw up a legal document – nowhere on the document does it have the sexual orientation of the people involved. If you want your property to go to someone upon your death, write up a will. In fact, there is only one legal item that I believe is different for people who have an approved state marriage – federal tax deductions. Every single other legal issue surrounding unmarried people can be addressed with legal documents, should someone desire them.
For that reason, I do not believe that preventing the state to marry two people of the same sex puts any undue hardships or prevents people from having any rights. If two people want to call themselves married, how can the state stop them? If you find a priest that agrees to marry you, the state isn't going to stop them.
Sorry, Jeff, but the bolded part of your answer is simply incorrect. All the ways in which it is incorrect are too numerous to mention, but let me take a shot at a few of them.
In Delaware, State employees have half of their health insurance paid by the State as an employment benefit. If both spouses are State employees, the State pays 50% for each, or 100% for the couple. In other words, the State of Delaware gives free health insurance to married couples, a State benefit worth literally thousands of dollars per year, that gay couples can never qualify for. Even better: State-share couples in which both partners finish at least 25 years with the State receive free health insurance for the remainder of their lives. No gay couple can qualify for this benefit.
Let's look further. In Delaware, as in other States without specific laws requiring hospitals to follow written instructions in naming your primary health care decider should you become ill, courts have repeatedly sided with the families of gay men and women against their partners, and have allowed their families the legal power to cut off gay partners from even visiting each other in the hospital. Yeah, take care of that with a will.
Several States--I believe it is down to four now--prohibit gay couples from adopting, even though they will allow single parents or unmarried parents to do so.
Two gay partners live together--have been married in their own eyes for perhaps decades. One gets terminal cancer and cannot work. The other is not allowed to claim that partner's medical expenses as a deduction while performing as a caregiver and breadwinner. This is, of course, not true for traditional married couples.
Try parental rights and guardianship. Divorced gay parents operate at a significant legal disadvantage. If their former spouse remarries, that step-parent, even if he or she never adopts, acquires certain de facto and de jure guardianship rights that a gay partner cannot ever qualify for.
In fact, conservatives in Delaware have repeatedly introduced a Constitutional amendment that would not only (a) define marriage as only between a man and women, but also (b) make any form of civil union for gays explicitly illegal; and (c) steadfastly ignore the full faith and credit part of the Constitution in nullifying such marriages or civil unions as might have been legally entered unto in other states.
There are plenty of additional benefits provided to heterosexual married couples that are explicitly denied to gay couples; a good starting place to examine this issue is here.
Jeff, there are only three possible positions a State can take on the issue of marriage.
1. Marriage can be considered a purely religious, cultural, or contractual institution, and the State plays absolutely no role in it, providing no advantages or disadvantages whatsoever. This is the general Libertarian ideal.
2. The State can sanction civil unions [that it may call marriage] and establish certain privileges [tax breaks, health insurance, etc.] to all people engaged in such a civil union, without looking up dresses or unzipping pants to determine who should be allowed to marry. Libertarians would prefer to keep the State out of the civil union/marriage racket all together, but since it is historically in that position, then it is obligated not to discriminate.
3. The State can provide discriminatory sanction to one particular form of civil union, basing that discrimination of certain religious and cultural values held by a majority of its citizens, and deny equal protection [or advantage] under the law to a minority of American citizens. This is the situation in the US today.
To be honest, I suspect that both Libertarians and Christians (and Christian Libertarians) should prefer either situation #1 or situation #2 as being more consistent with their religious and political values.
I suggest, in all honesty, that you're jumping through a lot of intellectual hoops to avoid coming to grips with the fact that viscerally you cannot find it within yourself to separate your personal aversion to gay partnerships from your legislative position. Because that's what it amounts to.
So I hope you'll take the time to do a little more checking on the blatant legal and financial disadvantages that the State confers on gay couples, and get back to me on whether or not you still support your initial position that gay marriage is no big deal because marriage in the US doesn't actually convey any rights or privileges.