Last edited: February 14, 2005

In Case You Missed It: Smile, You’ve Been Propositioned!

Alexandria Journal, January 13, 1999
6408 Edsall Road, Alexandria, Va., 22312

By Karen Murray

A couple of days before Christmas, the grand old man of area gay activism, Frank Kameny, stated during a radio interview that he personally propositioned the entire adult population of the state of Virginia, with particular emphasis on all prosecutors, police chiefs and police officers, and judges in the state.

It is not, one gathers, that Kameny hopes to become a poster boy for Viagra, so much as to point up the vestigiality, indeed idiocy, of the Virginia sodomy statute that, although rarely enforced, is still trotted out every time some anti-gay faction wants to take pot shots at a gay-friendly policy for "promoting illegal activities."

Give me strength. For anyone who cares, the state statute makes no distinction between genders when it prohibits (brace yourself) acts of oral or anal sex even in the privacy of one’s home.

(I don’t know why I’m worrying if I’ve offended someone. The homosexuality-is-a-sin crowd loves to dwell on the anatomical details. Karen Jo Gounaud and Bill Wheaton have done so, right here in this space.)

A separate law makes it a crime to even invite another person to commit "sodomy," a thought to ponder for anyone whose idea of a good put-down is "Hey, kiss my ...."

Well, moving right along. The thing about Kameny, you gotta love him, is I think he would probably take on anyone to prove his point, which is that only a few shorts-in-a-twist characters really think it would be worth the state’s time enforcing a law about crimes against nature when nature has not lodged any complaints. (Ken Starr might, but at least the Oval Office is in D.C.)

Kameny has been in there slugging since the ‘60s, his activist debut having involved an embarrassingly gracious and well-dressed picket line of gay citizens lobbying in front of the White House for an end to anti-gay federal employment policies.

The guy has attitude that makes the ACT-UP crowd look amateurish. Offered pity in a ‘60s radio interview for never having had a "truly satisfying heterosexual experience," Kameny shot back: "I feel sorry for you because you’ve never had a truly satisfying homosexual experience!"

In other words, to each his own. (Said the old maid as she kissed the cow, which was the tag line my mom always added to that, but we’ll leave that for another day.) Nature isn’t complaining, and you aren’t either unless you’re excessively concerned with other people’s sexual mechanics.

The shtick with Kameny’s solicitation is that he hopes to make the likely failure to prosecute a springboard for taking the law off the books. Virginia can do without laws of a type which, nationwide, tend to be invoked selectively in a harassing way.

If you really want to whammy a prostitute of either sex, or a child molester, you throw in the accusation that their activities included offers, solicitations or acts of sodomy. Child molesting had better carry enough penalties on its own, hookers bear the burden of society’s hypocrisy about sex, and divorce cases are messy enough without someone’s aggrieved spouse charging that he asked her to ... and so on.

If you think these laws aren’t broken on every block in suburbia, you’re kidding yourself about the lives of heterosexuals. Oh, stop being offended. You’ve heard enough from the conservative columnists about things like "gay bowel syndrome."

Interviewed by the Washington Blade, Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Richard Trodden said he has no plans to prosecute Kameny’s offer (in any sense) but that he doubts that dereliction will form grounds for repeal in a state as conservative as Virginia.

Personally I think Kameny should solicit members of the legislature, or ask them to take a polygraph about their own experiences, this being a hot issue in electoral politics of late.

Whatever the answers, if the Republicans who prevail in Richmond really want to get a name as the party of "less government," rather than just "less taxes," this is a good place to start.

Meanwhile, hmm, I guess the line forms to the left. Frank, I love ya.

Karen Murray lives in Arlington. Her column appears Wednesdays.

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