GLIL members joined other demonstrators in front of the White House on Easter Sunday, 2000, to protest the INS seizure of Elian Gonzalez
Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty Submit Brief in Second Amendment Case
(WASHINGTON, February 11, 2008) – Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty (GLIL) has joined with Pink Pistols in support of the Second Amendment rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered Americans by filing a friend-of-the-court brief with the United States Supreme Court.
GLIL chairman Richard Sincere explained: “The brief was filed in support of Dick Anthony Heller, who sued the District of Columbia to have its draconian prohibition on private gun ownership overturned. Heller’s rights to own a gun for self-protection were upheld by the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty appealed the case to the Supreme Court.”
The brief states that, “Laws that prevent the use of firearms for self-defense in one’s own home disproportionately impact those individuals who are targets of hate violence due to their minority status, whether defined by race, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristic.… [Not] only do members of the LGBT community have a heightened need to possess firearms for self-protection in their homes, the Second Amendment clearly guarantees this most basic right. This Court should not permit the democratic majority to deprive LGBT individuals of their essentialand constitutional right to keep and bear arms for self-defense in their own homes.”
The brief also makes a unique argument, tying the denial of rights of gay men and lesbians to possess firearms to the statutory mandate to exclude those same citizens from military service through the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” rules:
“… Interpreting the Second Amendment as recognizing a right conditioned upon military service, where eligibility for military service is defined by the Government, prevents the Amendment from acting as any constraint on Government action at all. Such a result is contrary not only to the literal text of the Amendment, but to the intentions of the Framers. Further, in light of the current ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, such an interpretation would completely eradicate any Second Amendment right for members of the LGBT community.”
A number of other organizations have also submitted amicus curiae briefs to the Supreme Court in this case, arguing in favor of an individual right to possess firearms, including the Cato Institute, Disabled Veterans for Self Defense, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, the Rutherford Institute, and a group of women legislators and academics.
The case is District of Columbia v. Heller, Docket No. 07-290. A copy of the Pink Pistols/GLIL brief can be accessed at http://tinyurl.com/29uqgo
GLIL Praises Libertarian Organizations for Contribution to Sodomy Case
(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., March 25, 2003) — “What consenting adults do with their minds and their bodies in the privacy of their own homes is no concern of the government,” noted Richard Sincere, chairman of Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty (GLIL), today. “This is the clear message from the libertarian organizations that have contributed legal arguments in the Texas sodomy case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this week. GLIL applauds these contributions.”
The case, Lawrence v. Texas, presents the Court with an opportunity to reverse its earlier position that states can control and regulate private, intimate, sexual behavior between consenting adults.
Two libertarian organizations, the Cato Institute and the Institute for Justice, have submitted amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs that argue that the government has no authority to prohibit or regulate such activity. [ed.: The libertarian contributions have received the attention of both the New York Times, in an article on March 19, and CNN, in a March 26 article on CNN.com.]
“Libertarians believe that a consistent ethic of individual liberty and personal responsibility requires the government to refrain from regulatory activity except when non-consenting persons might be harmed,” said Sincere. “The role of government is limited to protecting the life, liberty, and property of individual citizens.”
Put another way by Cato Institute vice president for legal affairs Roger Pilon, “Libertarians argue that the government has no business in the bedroom or in the boardroom.” Or, as Institute for Justice attorney Dana Berliner explained to the New York Times: “If the government can regulate private sexual behavior, it’s hard to imagine what the government couldn’t regulate.” (Full disclosure: The Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm, represented Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty in filing an amicus curiae brief in another landmark case involving gay issues, Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, in 2000.)
The Institute for Justice brief in the Lawrence case can be found on line at http://www.ij.org/cases/index.html, while the Cato Institute brief can be found at http://www.cato.org/pubs/legalbriefs/ garnervtexas.pdf
GLIL chairman Sincere noted: “We hope that the Supreme Court sees and understands the wisdom of the libertarian position, and frees all gay men and lesbians from the unjust constraints placed on them by the sodomy laws in 13 states.”
The Boy Scouts’ Unlikely Friends
In this litigious republic, litigation often is politics carried on by other means, and like politics, litigation sometimes makes strange bedfellows, as in a case to be argued before the Supreme Court next month and decided by early summer. The question at issue is: Should New Jersey Boy Scout organizations be permitted to exclude gay men from being Scoutmasters?
New Jersey says this violates the state’s anti-discrimination law. But the Scouts have acquired an unlikely ally, an organization of gays and lesbians which says the Scouts’ policy is not right but the Scouts have a right to it.
Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty has filed a friend-of-the-court brief prepared by the Institute for Justice, a merry band of libertarian lawyers in Washington
GLIL Supports Supreme Court Ruling That Favors Boy Scouts
(WASHINGTON, June 28, 2000) — The president of Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty (GLIL) today praised the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says the Boy Scouts of America are free to choose their own leaders, even if it means excluding gay men as Scoutmasters.
Richard Sincere, president of GLIL since February 1998, stated that his organization was pleased that “by a vote of 5 to 4, the Supreme Court recognizes that freedom of expressive association is protected under the U.S. Constitution. Despite what others might say, this is a victory for the rights of gay men and lesbians to form groups, gather for expressive purposes, and pursue their own visions of happiness with freedom and dignity.”
GLIL had filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Boy Scouts of America v. James Dale, arguing that the Boy Scouts of America have a constitutional right to set their own standards for membership and leadership positions, even if that means the Boy Scouts may exclude openly gay Scout leaders from participation in the organization.
Sincere said GLIL leaders were pleased that Chief Justice Rehnquist seemed to follow the reasoning in the group’s brief when he wrote that: “We are not, as we must not be, guided by our views of whether the Boy Scouts’ teachings with respect to homosexual conduct are right or wrong; public or judicial disapproval of a tenet of an organization’s expression does not justify the State’s effort to compel the organization to accept members where such acceptance would derogate from the organization’s expressive message.”
“Our brief had emphasized our disagreement with the Boy Scouts’ policy of excluding gay members and leaders,” said Sincere, a former Boy Scout himself. “But if government forces the Boy Scouts to change that policy, the constitutional rights of all of us — not just the Scouts, but everyone, gay or straight — will be diminished. Freedom does not belong only to those with whom we agree. Gay men and lesbians have suffered when freedom of association has not been respected. We benefit when freedom of speech and freedom of association are vigorously protected. A Supreme Court ruling against the Boy Scouts would have had the perverse effect of hurting gay and lesbian Americans.”
GLIL’s brief before the Supreme Court was prepared by the Institute for Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based public-interest law firm. GLIL’s amicus brief is available on-line at http://www.gayliberty.org.
For further information or to arrange interviews about GLIL’s interest in BSA v. Dale, please telephone Richard Sincere at 202-903-5555 or 804-245-8426.