Over the past eight years our Republican brothers and sisters have managed, at the national level, to alienate a considerable percentage of their constituency. In an effort to rebuild their party after the "meltdown" of 2008, there has been considerable discussion surrounding the need to rebuild the "Big Tent."
The "Big Tent" refers to the attempt of a political party to be inclusive of many different viewpoints, something with which the Republican Party has always struggled. The stance they have taken on issues such as abortion, and gay marriage, to name but a few, have pushed many away. Now the emphasis to remake the party has become almost an obsession, the "Big Tent" is falling down and must be repaired.
Does the Libertarian Party need to also expand its tent? How do we fair on these "wedge" issues? Our National platform states:
1.4 Abortion - Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.
1.3 Personal Relationships - Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the rights of individuals by government, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships.
This last issue is particularly illustrative of the general attitude Libertarians hold regarding that which is often been termed, for lack of a better phrase, "Gay Rights". Within the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, there are the Log Cabin Republicans and the Stonewall Democrats, who seek to further acceptance of their views and opinions within the framework of their two respective parties, albeit with little or no success. The Libertarian Party does have the Outright Libertarians and this excerpt from their FAQ explains the relationship between the Libertarian Party and their organization:
Does Outright's positions on "gay issues" differ from the Libertarian Party?
In substance, no. Currently, every one of our positions are consistent with libertarian principle and the Libertarian Party Platform (Neither Log Cabin Republicans nor even Stonewall Democrats can say this). However, we and the LP do sometimes disagree on the approach.
For example: The LP takes a hard line on Hate Crimes Legislation, as legalized discrimination against the victims of some violent crimes in favor of others. Outright opposes Hate Crimes Legislation but understands, sometimes first hand, why it is so popular and seeks to show GLBT people that the legislation is not only discriminatory but flawed even when it actually includes us! The LP's approach is often hard hitting and direct to the central issue. Outright's approach is more understanding, we are more willing to explain the failings of government solutions and to show how some things that look good for us on the surface may actually work against us. But one thing to keep in mind: the national LP has never taken a negative stance on the inclusion of GLBT individuals in any legislation that secures equal rights for GLBT people, whether marriage, military service, taxation, etc.
So I ask again, does the Libertarian Party need to expand its tent? No. In fact we don't even need a tent. There is room enough under the sun for all who cherish Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.