What do Dan Savage and AFTAH's Mike Heath have in common?

They both support Ron Paul.

In a Slate article out yesterday, gay activist Dan Savage (the inspiration behind the It Gets Better campaign), defended Ron Paul in comparison with social conservatives like Rick Santorum, saying:

“…Ron [Paul] may not like gay people, and may not want to hang out with us or use our toilets, but he’s content to leave us the fuck alone and recognizes that gay citizens are entitled to the same rights as all other citizens. Santorum, on the other hand, believes that his bigotry must be given the force of law. That’s an important difference.”

And then there is the chair of the board of the Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, Mike Heath. He is currently the Iowa State Director for Ron Paul’s campaign. Obviously, he too is a Ron Paul supporter but in his former positions, he has a record more in alignment with Rick Santorum than Ron Paul. Heath was lauded in an AFTAH article as being the only person in history to successfully turn back two state gay rights laws (in Maine in 1998 and 2001).

Maybe Heath has changed his views. Heath has not yet replied to my email asking what he thought of Savage’s characterization of Ron Paul’s views.

Having examined a sampling of Paul’s writings and looking at who is endorsing him in Iowa, I think Savage is only partly correct about Paul. I agree that Paul wants the federal government to leave gays alone. State government, however, is another matter. Paul criticized the Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision because he believes the state has the right to make laws concerning sexuality.

In Ron Paul’s version of the world, gays would be free from interference from Washington, DC, but if Iowa, or Texas, or South Carolina wanted to recriminalize homosexual behavior, then Paul would support their right to do so.

As it turns out, the strange bedfellows are not limited to those on the opposite ends of the culture war. If there is a candidate favored by Christian reconstructionists in the GOP field, it would have to be Ron Paul. Recently, Paul was endorsed by a prominent Christian Reconstructionist pastor in Iowa, an endorsement touted by Paul on his website.

More on why Paul is attractive to Christian reconstructionists will come in a post later today.


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  • Ron Paul wrote:

    Ridiculous as sodomy laws may be…

    I recall there was an awful lot of that going around after Lawrence v. Texas, when conservative pundits attacking the decision were careful to qualify their remarks by noting, “I personally think anti-sodomy laws are silly / absurd / nonsensical, BUT…”

    Sure, and when the Soviet Union sent dissidents packing off to Lubyanka prison, that was a laff-riot worthy of the Marx Brothers. And Chinese oppression of Christian house-churches is comedy gold!!

    I’m reminded that Ayn Rand (who, unlike Ron Paul, always denied being a “libertarian”) was known to be quite homophobic, and described homosexuality as “disgusting”. But she flatly asserted that anti-sodomy laws were an immoral use of state power, and not merely “silly.” (She was also squeamish about pornography, but said that government censorship of pr0n was “immoral,” too, and was emphatic about the point that state-level censorship was no less morally evil than the federal kind.)

    P.S. Paul wrote (as did many, many conservatives after Lawrence) that there’s no explicit mention of “privacy” or “sodomy” in the U.S. Constitution. This is true, but one might observe that there was nothing in the constitutions of the USSR or PRC to prohibit the State from infringing on freedom of speech or religion. Most libertarians would argue, however, that citizens of totalitarian countries nonetheless possess these rights, inalienably, by being human.

  • ken

    Paul’s article about Lawrence v. Texas leaves out quite a few important points however. Ex. the texas law wasn’t simply about sodomy, as it only applied to same-sex sodomy, not opposite sex sodomy. This was the primary point of Justice O’Connor’s concurring opinion. And the 14th Amendment does apply in that case. Paul cites the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution, but seems to forget it isn’t just about rights given to the states but also the people

    Finally, Paul’s writing implies an all to popular misconception about the US Constitution (and apparently this includes US supreme court justices). The US Constitution DOES NOT grant rights to the people, it grants rights to the GOVERNMENT. The US constitution is about what the government is and IS NOT allowed to do, not the people (except to the extent that it would interfere with the government’s authority) are and are not allowed to do. this fact was what the 9th Amendment was intended to emphasize.

  • I like Dan but he is naive about Paul’s positions. To tell you the truth, Ron Paul’s ideology is almost identical to Father Caughlin’s, some 60 years ago – including “end the Fed.” I don’t think that Paul likes Jewish people very much either. Moreover, Paul’s positions on the Fed and the gold standard sheer crackpottery.

    Without going into an Austrian School rant, Paul is no economist. He should stick to treating hemorrhoids rather than causing similar discomfort.

  • StraightGrandmother

    ken that was a good comment, thx

  • David

    For the record, although Heath won narrow victories against gay rights in 1998 and 2000, he ultimately lost in a big way. The same gay rights law was approved by a vote of the people of Maine in 2005. The margin of victory was greater than any of Heath’s prior wins. This was also the first time in US history that a statewide gay rights law was approved by popular vote.

    After his defeat, he tried to gather signatures for another initiative to repeal the anti-discrimination law and to repeal Maine’s limited domestic partnership law. Even though Maine makes it very easy to get initiatives on the ballot, Heath found no enthusiasm for the effort, and it fizzled out. Both laws remain on the books and none of the anti-gay groups are working to repeal them.

    • David – Thanks for pointing out the rest of the story in Maine.

  • Lynn David

    I’ll just say this….. in the 44 years since I came out I have found that there are degrees of the devil with which a gay person sometimes has to live. Would that it were not true at all. So I doubt the comparison Savage makes does not speak to an endorsement but to those unfortunate degrees of devilry.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Dave Hart, I clicked on your name in your previous comment and went to your blog. I read a few articles and enjoyed every one of them.

  • I think Dan supports the myth of Paul’s libertarianism rather than the reality of how its applied.

  • Fiona Mackenzie

    In light of Paul’s recently locking into a preacher who advocates executing gays, Dan may want to re-think this opinion. The “libertarian” idea of personal freedom without government interference is tempting, especially to those who have suffered persecution. It is ESSENTIAL not to forget that this idyllic world of individual choice is for straight white males in good health and corporations, only.

  • The US Constitution DOES NOT grant rights to the people, it grants rights to the GOVERNMENT.

    I disagree. The US Constitution (or at least the “Bill of Rights” that consists of the first ten Amendments) doesn’t “grant rights” to the government. First and foremost, it prohibits certain actions by the government, and thus takes power from the state rather than granting power to the state.

    By way contrast, the Soviet constitution(s) nominally “granted freedom of religion” to the people, but placed no explicit restrictions on the State’s power with regard to religion — thus making the “freedom of religion” a toothless sham.

    The distinction is important when you’re talking about “negative rights” (such as the freedom to have consensual gay sex on one’s own property without being molested by agents of the government) versus “positive rights” (such as one’s entitlement, as a taxpayer, to have one’s same-sex household legally acknowledged by the IRS).

  • ken

    Throbert McGee# ~ Dec 28, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    The US Constitution DOES NOT grant rights to the people, it grants rights to the GOVERNMENT.

    I disagree. The US Constitution (or at least the “Bill of Rights” that consists of the first ten Amendments) doesn’t “grant rights” to the government”

    The Constitution (not just the bill of rights) specifies the specific powers (rights) of the government.