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Where Are the Politicians?
by Lionel E. Deimel

Politician reaction yesterday to the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas striking down the Texas sodomy law was surprisingly muted. Gay rights advocates were jubilant, of course, and religious conservatives were predictably apocalyptic, but most politicians, including President Bush, seem to have preferred to duck the issue. Not even the most conservative of legislators were advocating an anti-sodomy amendment to the Constitution.

Perhaps we should not be surprised. Those pleased by the decision do not want to alienate the less pleased of their constituents, whereas the disapproving politicians are equally chary of appearing to advocate the surveillance of private bedrooms. The gay lobby is celebrating enough for everyone, and, although some non-politicians are lamenting the reduced ability of Texans to persecute their fellow citizens, one suspects that, even in the Lone Star State, it might be impossible to pass an anti-sodomy law today, even in the absence of action by the nation’s highest court.

The religious right, where the most disgruntled detractors of Lawrence v. Texas are to be found, confuses legal and moral, usually appealing to (Christian) morality as the foundation of law. This confusion explains the enthusiasm for posting the Ten Commandments in public buildings. The fact that murder is prohibited by both the Ten Commandments and civil statute obscures the fact that the case for the prohibition of homicide is easily made based on abstract human rights and requirements for civil order. Liberty Bell Because it is not an issue for society at large, however, neither failing to honor one's parents nor coveting one's neighbor's property (or spouse) is illegal. And a good thing, too, lest we all be in jail! Arguably, any law with only a moral (i.e., religious) justification is unconstitutional. Therefore, legal and moral have nothing whatever to do with one another, except accidentally, where a legitimate (civil) state interest coincides with a moral imperative.

It is probably not too early to be putting Lawrence v. Texas into the same category as Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade. A major expansion of freedom has just occurred. How ironic that it should come during the presidency of George W. Bush.

— LED, 6/27/2003

Notes: See “Rick's Fix,” which was written before a verdict was rendered by the Supreme Court.

On 6/29/2003, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) called for a constitutional amendment to ban homosexual marriage in the U.S. This will clearly receive more support than would any proposed anti-sodomy amendment. It is too early to tell if this is a serious proposal or is just designed to reassure the GOP party faithful.

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