Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Republican gay bashing

A must-read article by The American Prospect's Harold Meyerson. For my money, here's the juice:

Antonin Scalia is raging against the coming of the light.

Scalia's dissent from last week's epochal Supreme Court decision striking down Texas's anti-sodomy statute confirms Ayatollah Antonin's standing as the intellectual leader of the forces arrayed against equality and modernity in the United States. In establishing the deep historical roots of anti-gay sentiment in America, for instance, Scalia took pains to note the 20 prosecutions and four executions for consensual gay sex conducted in colonial times. He noted, approvingly, that even today, "many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools or as boarders in their home."

Actually, back in 1978, a California electorate far more conservative than today's massively repudiated an initiative seeking to ban gays from teaching school, but this inconvenient fact -- and other evidence of a massive shift in public sentiment on gay rights -- doesn't have quite the legal majesty of those four colonial executions. (Scalia is uncharacteristically short on detail here. Were they hangings or burnings?) Scalia's justifications for discriminatory conduct sound terribly familiar. Change "homosexual" to "Negro" and Scalia is at one with the authors of Plessy v. Ferguson's mandate for "separate but equal" schools, and the judges who upheld anti-miscegenation statutes. Indeed, of the 13 states whose anti-sodomy statutes were struck down last Thursday, 10 were once slave states of the South. In what has always been the main event in American history -- the battle to expand the definition of "men" in Jefferson's mighty line on who's created equal -- these are the states that have had to be dragged along kicking and screaming.

More immediately, 12 of the 13 states with sodomy laws on the books were states that George W. Bush carried in the 2000 election, and the 13th -- Florida -- was the one that Scalia and company handed to him.


Meyerson goes on to say that someone on the right needs to have a "Sister Souljah" moment about homosexuality and chastise his party's bigotry. To show you a likely candidate for the man who ought to chastise Frist and Santorum, I'd like to take you back to a column I wrote about gay marriage a few years ago. If you don't want to flip over there, at least remember that, during a Lieberman/Cheney debate, Cheney said this:

I try to be open-minded about it as much as I can and tolerant of (homosexual) relationships.

And like Joe (Lieberman), I also wrestle with the extent to which there ought to be legal sanction of those relationships. I think we ought to do everything we can to tolerate and accommodate whatever kind of relationships people want to enter into.


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