Last edited: February 14, 2005

2000 Presidential Candidates on Sodomy Laws

Much has been made of George W. Bush’s public statement in favor of the Texas "Homosexual Conduct" law. David Elliot quoted Bush in the Austin American-Statesman (January 22, 1994) as saying, "I think it's a symbolic gesture of traditional values." Hardly a promising prospect for gays — or anyone interested in civil liberties and privacy — to have as President.

President Clinton himself — as Attorney General of Arkansas — supported the imposition of a gay-only sodomy law in 1977. While Clinton has been generally positive on gay issues, he only signed the Defense of Marriage Act, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell bill, and every other anti-gay bill to reach his desk.

Al Gore also believed that we should all be in jail for having sex as indicated by his 1981 vote to overturn DC's Sexual Assault Reform Bill, which would have decriminalized consensual sodomy. We had to wait another 12 years because of that vote.

Dick Cheney voted with Al Gore on that vote. While their actions of 19 years ago may not be the best indicator of future actions — people do grow and change and become educated — neither Gore nor Cheney has voiced any remorse for that vote.

Neither has either voiced any support for removing imprisonment as a penalty for military personnel who engage in sodomy: on-duty or off-duty, on-base or off-base at home and in private.

Gore and Lieberman did vote against an amendment on February 8, 1990 offered by Jesse Helms (R-NC) to the Hate Crimes Statistics Act. Amendment 1251 states in part: State sodomy laws should be enforced because they are in the best interest of public health. The amendment failed 19-77. It was a horrifically anti-gay amendment which attacked gay people on a number of issues, sodomy laws being only one. Gore, Lieberman and Cheney all failed to speak on those sodomy law votes, as recorded in the Congressional Record, so we can’t be sure what motivated their votes, but at least Gore showed improvement on his sodomy law votes from 1981 to 1990.

Connecticut repealed its sodomy law effective October 1, 1971, while Lieberman was a state Senator. However the vote took place on July 8, 1969, over a year before Lieberman was elected.

The two second-tier candidates for President have no political experience or voting records. Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan has made numerous and unrelenting attacks on gay people, including this quote from a column in Wall Street Journal, 1/21/93: "Gay rights activists seek to substitute, for laws rooted in Judeo-Christian morality, laws rooted in the secular humanist belief that all consensual sexual acts are morally equal. That belief is anti-biblical and amoral; to codify it into law is to codify a lie." His running mate is the President of a John Birch Society chapter, and has no known positions in anyway positive on gay issues.

Green Party candidate Ralph Nader stated in 1996 that he doesn’t do gonadal politics. Presumably sodomy laws fall within that area. In the 2000 campaign he has made statements in support of civil unions such as created in Vermont, but has no position on sodomy laws on his campaign web site or within the Green Party platform.

Nader’s new-found interest in gay issues does not run very deep. The others are hostile or have simply avoided the issue since the early eighties. Gore and Leiberman hold a distinct lead on this issue over their competitors, but it is not clear that anything positive on sodomy laws may be expected from our next President.


Bob Summersgill

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