While hard to imagine today, Virginia once participated in discrimination and coercion of the worst form, slavery, followed by Jim Crow laws that forced racial segregation.
Up until a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, Virginia violated the civil rights of gays by prohibiting same-sex marriage.
Since the Libertarian Party’s founding in 1971, Libertarians have been strong proponents of civil rights. I believe the government should be blind to race, religion, and sexual orientation.
I also believe in the civil rights of non-citizens. Whether or not they have a visa, non-citizens are human beings with rights. I want all foreign nationals in Virginia to be safe from violence and intimidation by the police and others. I oppose using Virginia taxpayers’ money to enforce federal immigration laws. (I also oppose taxpayer-funded welfare for foreigners, but of course, I generally oppose those programs for citizens as well.)
People have a variety of preferences and priorities when it comes to religion, education, lifestyles, behavior, finances, and charity. I think you should be able to do whatever you want as long as you aren’t infringing on the rights of others.
Of course, people will not always agree on what is best or appropriate. While Libertarians generally have a “live-and-let-live” attitude, that doesn’t mean you have to sit down, be quiet, and accept other people’s choices if you don’t like what they’re doing. But if you want to change other people’s choices, Libertarians support using persuasion, rather than the force of government.
One of the best paths to social harmony is minimizing government. Much of the conflict in our society is the result of one group of people using government to force other groups to do things they don’t want to do. Because government is so big and powerful, people fight over who controls it, to protect their own interests. If we had a much smaller government, the stakes would be lower over who temporarily controlled it until the next election, and we would live in a less divided, more harmonious society.
Though not perfect, one reasonably bright aspect of America is religious freedom. We have freedom of religion in America with over one hundred religions flourishing. Religious activists are free to persuade (but not force) others to visit their churches and join their religions. Other countries with state-mandated religions experience conflict, sometimes even civil wars over religion.
Libertarians sometimes get mistaken as being “extreme Republicans” because of our advocacy for drastically reducing taxes and spending. But, when you look at our support for gay marriage, ending the war on drugs, ending capital punishment, and openness to immigration, Libertarians might start sounding like “extreme Democrats” to some people.