Last edited: January 25, 2005

Sodomy Hussein

War in Iraq and religious extremism at home

New York Press, April 1, 2003
333 7th Ave, 14th Fl., New York, New York 10001
The Gist

By Michelangelo Signorile

So there we were last week, dropping bombs over Baghdad to liberate its people from a cruel regime, part of a master plan to protect us against religious extremists. Meanwhile, back in the United States, the highest court in the land was seriously debating whether or not the government should continue to barge into people’s homes, haul their naked asses off to jail and charge them with engaging in sexual acts deemed abhorrent by religious extremists—a policy that our president has said is just fine and dandy.

Saddam’s Republican Guard may be tough, but our own Republican guard, sitting on the Supreme Court, can put up a pretty good fight, too.

“There is a long history of the state making moral judgments,” Justice Antonin Scalia, George W. Bush’s favorite Supreme Court Justice, said, responding to a lawyer’s arguments challenging the Texas sodomy law and seeking to overturn the Supreme Court’s notorious Hardwick sodomy decision of 1986. “You can make it sound very puritanical,” insisting that the state may have good reasons.

Chief Justice Rehnquist added: “Almost all laws are based on disapproval of some people or conduct. That’s why people regulate.”

Though it’s likely a majority on the court will finally throw out the sodomy laws, Rehnquist and Scalia appear to be among the die-hard justices who will defend them to their deaths, despite faint hope that Rehnquist has gone through a transformation in recent years. Rehnquist voted with the majority to uphold Georgia’s sodomy law, allowing states to continue to ban the act. (Nine states still ban homosexual as well as heterosexual sodomy, while four states ban only homosexual sodomy.) A five-four decision, Hardwick was then and remains today one of the stellar embarrassments for the court and the country. The late Justice Powell later changed his mind and said that he was wrong in voting with the majority—a flip-flop that occurred after he learned that one of his own clerks was gay. Knowing a living, breathing homosexual obviously changes minds.

Or maybe not. Last month, a gay male couple who were neighbors of Rehnquist’s gave an interview to the Advocate in which they talked about hanging out with Rehnquist and his wife in their suburban Virginia neighborhood, baking cookies for the justice and doing other neighborly good deeds. Rehnquist was apparently so fond of the guys that when the men put a “for sale” sign up on their lawn, he ran out and told them they couldn’t leave.

That’s pretty creepy, especially after hearing Rehnquist’s comments and questions last week. You have to wonder if he actually thinks that his gay neighbors did nothing more than bake cookies behind closed doors. He might not have wanted them to move away on their own, but does he really think it would have been perfectly fine for the cops to have the power to cart them to off to jail in the middle of the night? We’ll know the answer to that question soon enough, when the court rules on the Texas case.

The White House, meanwhile, has officially kept a distance from the sodomy case. Unlike the high-profile affirmative action case recently brought before the court, the White House didn’t enter a brief. On the homo issue, White House strategist Karl Rove prefers to suck up to the Christian groups under the radar, hoping not to get caught. (This happened in 2001, when he was revealed to have secretly promised the Salvation Army that he’d help the group discriminate against gays via the White House’s faith-based initiative program.)

Now a suspicious website called the Presidential Prayer Team ( is asking people to pray to God that the Supreme Court upholds the sodomy law.

“Pray for the United States Supreme Court as they consider the case of Lawrence v. Texas on March 26, 2003,” the site’s authors implored readers last week. “The case involves the right of the state of Texas to declare that certain acts are indeed immoral.”

Though a disclaimer in fine print on the bottom of the page notes that the website has no affiliation to the White House or the president, the site no doubt looks official to a lot of its devout Christian users, complete as it is with photos of Bush and its own version of the presidential seal. Dick Cheney’s lawyer recently sent a threatening letter to the operators of, a left-leaning satirical site that has skewered his wife Lynn—and which also contained a disclaimer—but there doesn’t seem to have been any complaint from the White House about the Presidential Prayer Team.

But shadowy websites aren’t necessary to gauge Bush’s sentiment on sodomy laws, even if the White House has been reticent to speak about them. And before attributing his positions solely to politics, remember that in Bush’s born-again world, sodomy is as evil as Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. As governor, Bush supported the Texas sodomy law, calling it a “symbolic gesture of traditional values.”

At the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, Bush’s buddy, then Texas Attorney General and now U.S. Senator John Cornyn, told me, “I honestly don’t think that Gov. Bush would believe that the [Texas sodomy] law should ever be changed.”

Soon, private sexual behavior may be yet another issue on which Bush is shown to be to the right of even this Supreme Court.

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