Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kent Snyder, the libertarian Terry Dolan

Kent Snyder, the gay presidential campaign manager for conservative-libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14), died last month of pneumonia, leaving $400,000 in medical bills because the Paul campaign provided him with no health insurance. Besides being a congressman, Paul is also a physician.

Jesse Benton, the campaign's communications director, said it was Snyder himself who decided not to provide staffers with insurance, claiming that campaigns simply do not do so. The Obama, Clinton, and McCain campaigns, however, have all provided full health coverage for their paid staff. According to the Federal Elections Commission, Paul's presidential campaign had raised $35,053,492 by 31 May 2008 and had $4,526,323 cash remaining on that date.

Paul and his handlers have cultivated the image of a grandfatherly muppet who has the cranky-cute idea that government should just get off of everyone's backs. According to Lou Chibbaro in today's Washington Blade,

Gay libertarian activists have praised Paul for his longstanding views calling for all Americans to be free from government intrusion into their private lives through laws and regulations. Paul voted against a proposed U.S. constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

And yet last year Paul launched a frightening broadside on the floor of the House of Representatives against the right of gay people to be protected by the laws and the Constitution of the United States. Paul argued that states have the right to intrude into gay people's lives with legislation such as gay marriage bans and punitive sodomy laws, and that any federal court that rejected state intrusion into people's privacy was abusing the equal protection clause of the Constitution. In his floor speech, Paul threatened any federal judge who upheld the universality of the Constitution with impeachment and removal.

Paul's manifesto could easily have been delivered by arch-bigot senators Strom Thurmond in the 1950s or Jesse Helms in the 1980s. Paul's We the People Act legislation, the introduction of which was the occasion of his floor speech, would have prevented the U.S. Supreme Court from ruling in such crucial privacy rights cases as Griswold v. Connecticut, Eisenstadt v. Baird, Roe v. Wade, and Lawrence v. Texas. States consequently would still be able to ban the use of contraceptives, women's reproductive health rights, and gay people's right to intimate relations. And many states would if they could.

This is the man whom Kent Snyder served.

Snyder's fealty to such a vicious ideologue and the circumstance of his death are reminiscent of those of Terry Dolan. Dolan was a closeted gay man who served as the chairman of the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC), a far-right committee that was identified in 1979 by Time as one of the three most important organizations of the New Right that would sweep Ronald Reagan and a Republican Senate majority into power the next year. Dolan worked tirelessly on behalf of a right-wing power structure that would later coldly turn its back on hundreds of thousands of gay men throughout the AIDS epidemic. Dolan himself would become an early AIDS casualty, dying in 1986 at the age of 36, abandoned to his fate by the very people he had helped into power.

The willingness of gay right-wingers like Snyder and Dolan to labor on behalf of politicians who oppose basic protection of the law to all citizens and who will even stand by as people die is nothing short of appalling. It is difficult to believe that Snyder did not know what Paul's true colors are, and yet he willingly served a man who is at his core a bigot and who is deeply opposed to basic equality for gay people like Snyder himself.

Some consider it not condign to speak ill of the dead, and yet Snyder and Dolan serve as necessary cautionary examples. They were Uncle Toms, and they show us the way of those who would sell themselves out by selling the rest of us out. That way lies infamy and oblivion.

Paul's floor speech on 05 Jan 2007, from the Congressional Record:

Madam Speaker, I rise to introduce the We the People Act. The We the People Act forbids federal courts, including the Supreme Court, from adjudicating cases concerning state laws and polices relating to religious liberties or "privacy," including cases involving sexual practices, sexual orientation or reproduction. The We the People Act also protects the traditional definition of marriage from judicial activism by ensuring the Supreme Court cannot abuse the equal protection clause to redefine marriage. In order to hold federal judges accountable for abusing their powers, the act also provides that a judge who violates the act's limitations on judicial power shall either be impeached by Congress or removed by the president, according to rules established by the Congress.

The United States Constitution gives Congress the authority to establish and limit the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts and limit the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The Founders intended Congress to use this authority to correct abuses of power by the federal judiciary.

Some may claim that an activist judiciary that strikes down state laws at will expands individual liberty. Proponents of this claim overlook the fact that the best guarantor of true liberty is decentralized political institutions, while the greatest threat to liberty is concentrated power. This is why the Constitution carefully limits the power of the federal government over the states.

In recent years, we have seen numerous abuses of power by Federal courts. Federal judges regularly strike down state and local laws on subjects such as religious liberty, sexual orientation, family relations, education, and abortion. This government by Federal judiciary causes a virtual nullification of the Tenth Amendment's limitations on federal power. Furthermore, when federal judges impose their preferred polices on state and local governments, instead of respecting the polices adopted by those elected by, and thus accountable to, the people, republican government is threatened. Article IV, section 4 of the Untied States Constitution guarantees each state a republican form of government. Thus, Congress must act when the executive or judicial branch threatens the republican governments of the individual states. Therefore, Congress has a responsibility to stop Federal judges from running roughshod over state and local laws. The Founders would certainly have supported congressional action to reign in Federal judges who tell citizens where they can and can’t place manger scenes at Christmas.

Madam Speaker, even some supporters of liberalized abortion laws have admitted that the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, which overturned the abortion laws of all fifty states, is flawed. The Supreme Court's Establishment Clause jurisdiction has also drawn criticism from across the political spectrum. Perhaps more importantly, attempts to resolve, by judicial fiat, important issues like abortion and the expression of religious belief in the public square increase social strife and conflict. The only way to resolve controversial social issues like abortion and school prayer is to restore respect for the right of state and local governments to adopt policies that reflect the beliefs of the citizens of those jurisdictions. I would remind my colleagues and the federal judiciary that, under our Constitutional system, there is no reason why the people of New York and the people of Texas should have the same policies regarding issues such as marriage and school prayer.

Unless Congress acts, a state's authority to define and regulate marriage may be the next victim of activist judges. After all, such a decision would simply take the Supreme Court’s decision in the Lawrence case, which overturned all state sodomy laws, to its logical conclusion. Congress must launch a preemptive strike against any further federal usurpation of the states' authority to regulate marriage by removing issues concerning the definition of marriage from the jurisdiction of federal courts.

Although marriage is licensed and otherwise regulated by the states, government did not create the institution of marriage. Government regulation of marriage is based on state recognition of the practices and customs formulated by private individuals interacting in civil institutions, such as churches and synagogues. Having federal officials, whether judges, bureaucrats, or congressmen, impose a new definition of marriage on the people is an act of social engineering profoundly hostile
to liberty.

It is long past time that Congress exercises its authority to protect the republican government of the states from out-of-control federal judges. Therefore, I urge my colleagues to cosponsor the We the People Act.


Anonymous said...

You need to understand the constitution in order to understand Ron Paul. The man will die protecting the rights of Florida to create a hetero marriage bill and would also die defending the right of California creating a pro-gay marriage bill.

The federal government has no role in deciding who should be married. The government got involved once blacks and whites started getting married. You needed a "Marriage License" in order to get married. We stuck to this idiotic system and excluded homosexuals due to the fact that most Americans are religious. The goal should be as Ron Paul put it, to stop the Federal Government from letting the supreme court create new law from the bench.

Roe vs. Wade was a horrible president. The federal gov. has no constitutional authority telling states how to treat abortion. It is not in the constitution. If Roe vs. Wade went the other way and denied women the right, all liberal voters would be lined up to agree with Dr. Paul's views.

At first glance Dr. Paul seems to be what every cheap uneducated reporter makes him out to be. Once you read his books and truly listen to his views you too might become a supporter.

Anonymous said...

Neither Ron Paul nor "Anonymous" has the least understanding of the United States Constitution, clearly. To argue, as Paul does, that the U.S. Supreme Court may not protect people's equal rights under the Equal Protection clause and the Due Process clause of the Constitution is simply ignorant.

"Anonymous" hasn't a clue about basic facts in the issues he/she cites. It was state governments that prohibited interracial marriage; it was the U.S. Supreme Court, properly interpreting the Constitution, that ruled that such state bans are unconstitutional abrogations of citizens' rights.

If we let ignoramuses like Ron Paul and "Anonymous" impose their bizarre views on this country, interracial marriage would still be illegal in some states, millions of women would still have no right to make their own reproductive health decisions, and couples -- including married heterosexual couples -- who engage in certain intimate acts would be criminals.

Ron Paul's ideology has no basis in constitutional law, and his views are dangerous and come perilously close to being un-American. His "We the People" speech all by itself proves what an extremist lunatic he is. Thank goodness his campaign was as stillborn as his nutty ideas.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Kent Snyder was so devoted to Ron Paul's cause because... that cause is not against gay people? I know some gay people who supported Ron Paul and saw no problem with his views.

As the first poster said, he simply believes states-- and that people in those states-- should have the right to decide the laws of their own state, without the federal government intervening. This applies with the war on drugs, medical marijuana, gun laws, the Real ID Act, education, gay marriage, civil unions and heterosexual marriage. It applies with anything. This is a classic federalist view as the founders held. The Constitution discusses the rights held by the federal government, then says all other rights are reserved for the states.

Remember when California wanted more emissions laws, and the EPA said absolutely not, a state can't have stricter emissions laws than the federal government? Ron Paul would have been on the side of California. That doesn't mean that he favors emissions laws or doesn't favor them, he just favors a state's right to choose its own laws. That certainly doesn't mean that interracial marriage would still be illegal in any state. What states would have that law by popular vote? Even in the South, polls overwhelmingly are against bans on interracial marriage. What politician could get elected in heavily black Mississippi or North Carolina today by advocating a position against interracial marriage or civil rights?

The current situation simply has courts deciding that gay marriage must be allowed, at which time a referendum is sought to create a constitutional amendment to ban it, which is usually successful. In the end, that actually sets back the cause of gay marriage. If no judicial ruling preceded it, a law would suffice rather than a constitutional amendment, and a law is much easier to change. Andrew Sullivan was one of the first people to make the case for gay marriage, and he endorsed Ron Paul in the Republican primary.

If you disagree with the federalist position, that's fine and you can say so. But it's being disingenuous to imply that it's "anti-gay," since it applies to any type of law, not just gay marriage. It's not "anti-marijuana" or "pro-marijuana" or "pro-emissions laws" or "anti-Real ID" or any of those things. It's simply a viewpoint on the Constitution which some hold and some don't.

If, for instance, California votes that it would like to keep gay marriage legal, and the federal government tried to come in and ban it, Ron Paul would stand up for California's right to gay marriage. He's voted against a Constitutional ban on gay marriage for that reason.

If you do think these positions are anti-gay, then I have news for you: any gay staffer who has worked for Bill Clinton, Barack Obama or Joe Biden must be even more self-hating than Kent Snyder. Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, and none of those three are for gay marriage in any form, in any way (civil unions don't count, and I don't think they're in favor of those, either). Ron Paul would defend any state's right to choose gay marriage if its people wanted it, and he has also defended any person's right to have any type of association-- including marriage-- with any other person without the state being involved at all.

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