Last edited: January 25, 2005

Is Sodomy Patriotic?

Where naughty gay sex in Texas meets the rigid U.S. Supreme Court. Hide the children

SF Gate, April 2, 2003

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

And then there’s the one about the surly Bush-lovin’ U.S. Supreme Court, soon to be deciding whether a gay Texas couple violated that state’s law by having consensual homosexual sex in the privacy of their own home without first taking the necessary precaution of moving the hell away from homophobic big-haired gul-dang panty-bunched Texas in the first place.

Or at least hanging some blackout curtains and barricading their front door with iron bars against homophobic neighbors and lawmakers and Bible-groping pro-family Texas zealots who apparently still think good sex means a bottle of Jim Beam and 30 seconds with a belt sander.

What, too harsh? Let’s look. Texas is one of 14—count ‘em, 14 (down from 25 not so long ago)—states that still have anti-sodomy laws on the books, four of which (like Texas) specify homosexual acts in particular, laws that make it a crime—often a felony—for gay couples to engage in oral or anal sex.

Anywhere, at any time, under any circumstances, because it’s just wrong, an abomination against God and beer and sports and whatever, big scary threat to marriage and family values and the sanctity of “Touched By an Angel” reruns. Or something.

Here’s the rub: As recently as 1986, the Supremes, to much derision and general scorn, upheld an older, 1976 ban on homosexual and heterosexual sodomy in Georgia, a precedent which Texas then followed, though Texas took the additional step of criminalizing only consensual anal or oral sex with your same-sex lover, but not with your hetero partner. Or with an animal. It’s true. Sheep: legal. Gay lover: illegal. Now you know why they call it cattle country.

The current case, Lawrence and Garner vs. Texas, could reverse that inane 1986 decision. Maybe.

Lest we begin to think we are the land of the free and home of the libidinously brave. Lest we begin to think our sexually bewildered nation doesn’t still harbor elements of snarling puritanical fundamentalist thinking, not really all that different in tone and pitch and implied hatred than, oh, say, Iraq. Or Saudi Arabia. Or the Taliban. You don’t think so? Look again.

After all, there is a fine line between a Taliban “freedom fighter” beating a woman for displaying an ankle in public and a macho frat guy in Arkansas who would crush the skull of a gay man who accidentally flirted with him in a bar.

Fine line between the Islamic zealots who want the world purged of the “Great Satan” and the innumerable Bible zealots in the flyover states who wish everyone in San Francisco if not the entire state of California would all be gassed by terrorists and get AIDS and die. And those are the polite e-mails.

Naturally, as with anything related to sexual mores and uptight religion in the U.S., irony and hypocrisy are rampant. The term “sodomy” itself, for one thing, has gone through as many definitions as a Texas Republican has trophy wives.

“Sodomy” has, at various times, meant everything from mutual masturbation to sex in the wrong position to bestiality, sex without intent to procreate or just plain ol’ hetero sex between a man and a woman.

Basically, “sodomy” has been used to refer to just about any sexual act, save maybe “the GOP Special,” a.k.a. three grunting minutes in the missionary position right before NASCAR. The negative homophobic connotation to the term is relatively new, actually, and what with the Catholic Church going one ugly step further and tossing priests and young boys into the definition’s mix, well, good ol’ sodomy may never recover.

Which might seem to bode ill for San Francisco and other sexually progressive and enthusiastic cities, places where happy consensual sodomy not only isn’t a crime, it’s an art form, a cultural revolution, a point of pride.

Hell, you can take classes. You can attend workshops and buy wondrous insertable silicone thingies and pluglike doodads at friendly boutiques and no one blinks an eye just don’t tell your mother. Sodomy here isn’t just an act, it’s a way of life. Our motto: Keep sodomy free, or the terrorists win.

Of course, we’re all going to Hell. Alas.

Do we even need to mention that each and every one of those 14 anti-sodomy states voted for Bush? Or that these are the states that tend to be the most homogeneous, the least diverse, the least culturally dynamic? Pretty much a given.

But let’s be even clearer: There is a very direct correlation between those who find unusual or otherwise naughty or kinky or open or delicious sexual practices to be a direct insult to a whiny uptight God and/or family values, and the current aggro attitudes of a nation at war.

To put it another way, those who are staunchly pro-war and pro-Bush and pro-guns and pro-violence and anti-outsider tend to be desperately fearful of the different, the openly sexual, the carnally adventurous. This is, after all, the basis of the conservative platform. Gays are an abomination. Women and minorities in their place. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Nothing new there.

But as we storm into a poor, repressed nation in the name of justice and power and our smirking inarticulate president’s born-again God, killing hundreds (soon to be thousands) of Iraqis in the process, it’s good to be reminded just what sort of values we are, ostensibly, fighting to inflict upon the world.

Is now a good time to mention how many psychologists and sex therapists believe that a great many of the world’s ills, including war, are in part fueled by thwarted or otherwise repressed sexual desires among its manly leaders?

Dictators and warmongers and fear suckers and Dick Cheney—it is safe to say they turn to a love of power and money and ego strutting because of sexual rejection and lack of virility and decent orgasm? Too much of a stretch to point out how many of the most violent, turbulent or unstable nations in the world tend to be the most sexually repressed? Think about it.

The good news is, the few states that do still have sodomy laws on the books rarely, if ever, enforce them. Despite Ashcroft’s famous bilious homophobia and ShrubCo’s anti-choicism and the general terrified puling of God-fearing outlets like the fun-lovin’ Family Resource Council, such blatantly discriminatory laws are slowly vanishing, becoming less and less relevant. No one in recent memory, for example, has received the maximum 20-year prison sentence for committing gay fellatio in Oklahoma. Otherwise, they’d have no football teams.

But what isn’t disappearing quite so fast is the hatred, the misinfo and the mind-set that inspire such laws in the first place. No matter which way the Supremes decide in the Texas case, the fact remains that we reside nowhere near the moral polar opposite of our fundamentalist enemies. In fact, with the Bush/Ashcroft/Cheney axis of cultural evil, we remain much more similar to our foes than we may want to believe.

All of which makes the ultimate irony even more, well, ironic. The truism remains: Those who fear and tremble and fret and clutch their Bibles and their ideologies the most when sodomy is mentioned are the very ones who could, of course, most benefit from it. As the saying goes, it’s not just a punch line, it’s a fact.

[Home] [Editorials] [Lawrence v. Texas]