Sodomites Owe Texas Republicans Their Thanks
July 23, 2003
801 Texas Avenue, Houston, TX 77002
By Dale Carpenter
Let’s pause to thank the people who brought us the U.S. Supreme Court’s
sodomy decision, shall we?
There are the obvious ones: John Lawrence and Tyron Garner, who were
arrested in Lawrence’s bedroom for having sex and then endured five years of
public exposure and judicial appeals; the lawyers for Lambda Legal, who
successfully shepherded the case from a Justice of the Peace to the Supreme
Court; the six justices who accepted their arguments; and the generations of
courageous gay civil rights advocates, who made it possible for a court to
regard gays as citizens worthy of constitutional protection.
But don’t overlook the Republican Party of Texas, without whose tireless
devotion to the 16th century none of this would have happened.
In the face of repeated legislative attempts to repeal the state sodomy
law, the Texas GOP stood firm, thereby making possible the arrests of Lawrence
and Garner, thereby making possible their convictions and appeal to the
Supreme Court, thereby making possible the ringing declaration of gay rights
in Lawrence v. Texas.
National Review, the flagship magazine of American conservatism, opposes
sodomy laws. Conservative commentators such as William Kristol do, too. Even
Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative Catholic, thinks sodomy laws are
But the leaders of the Texas GOP are no ordinary conservatives, or even
ordinary social conservatives for that matter. They are theocrats, devoted to
the idea that there is no proper distinction between God’s law and civil
They have become an embarrassment to the national Republican Party. It’s
the Texas delegation, you may remember, that had its members bow their heads
in prayerful protest while openly gay Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., was permitted
to speak—on the issue of free trade—at the 2000 Republican National
But the best evidence of Texas GOP leaders’ devotion to theocracy is
their 22-page party platform, which is less a political document than a
fundamentalist encyclical. It declares the United States “a Christian
nation” founded “on the Holy Bible.” It repudiates “the myth of
separation of Church and State.” It supports a “school prayer” amendment
to the Constitution. It backs “a character education curriculum” in public
schools “based upon biblical principles.” On and on it goes in that
When it comes to gays, the state party platform lapses into obsessed rage.
References to “homosexuals” or “homosexuality” (14) even outnumber
invocations of “God” (10).
Needless to say, the platform opposes gay marriage and gays in the
military. It goes further, opposing domestic partners benefits and allowing
gays to adopt kids or even have custody of their own children. It urges
stripping AIDS sufferers of any legal protection from discrimination.
Here is the Texas GOP on gay sex:
“The Party believes that the practice of sodomy tears at the fabric of
society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the
spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to
the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God,” blah,
In case you were in doubt, the platform adds, “The Party opposes the
decriminalization of sodomy.”
Elsewhere it declares, brazenly, “We are opposed to genocide.” (Whew!)
I had my own run-in with the Texas GOP on the subject of the state sodomy
law. In 1996, I was president of the Log Cabin Republicans of Texas. We
applied to run an information booth at the state GOP convention that year. Our
application was denied because, the party’s executive director told me,
“Sodomy is illegal in Texas.” When I offered to forbid our members to
sodomize each other in the booth, state party leaders were unmoved.
Now all their fundamentalist fervor has yielded the most far-reaching
decision affirming the basic dignity of gay people ever issued by the Supreme
Court, with more to come. We couldn’t have done it without them.
I urge everyone reading this to send a thank-you note or e-mail to Texas
GOP leaders, letting them know how profoundly grateful you are. Perhaps they
can be goaded into concocting and defending even more purposeless
discriminations against gays that generate even more precedent-setting
reaffirmations of our rights.
Keep your thank-you message short and simple. In fact, use the version of
English most familiar to Texas GOP clerics, the King James version.
Try this: “O Holy Party: I thank thee for thine everlasting persecution
of me. Thou hast delivered me from criminality. My civil rights runneth over.
Thy faithful sodomite, [Your Name].”
- Carpenter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota Law School in
Minneapolis, is a former Houstonian.
[Home] [Editorials] [Lawrence