Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Friday, June 27, 2003  

Just a few words about the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the Texas sodomy law. First: it's great news. This will be cast as "culture wars" decision, and the Falwell types will use it to galvanize the Christian right. But as a matter of law, it's a fantastic decision. Since 9/11 the Bush administration has been assualting civil liberties on every front, and an individuals' right to any privacy has been an open question. The righties will play this up as a further erosion of all that's good and wholesome in America, but it's quite the opposite: the federal goverment has never had a right to peer into the beds of consenting adults. The Supreme Court affirmed that they did not have that right with this decision, and our country will be the better for it.

Climbing down off my soapbox, let me say that what happens next will be deliciously interesting. Most folks who vote Democrat are fairly socially liberal; they don't want to know what goes on in their neighbor's bedroom, and they don't want the government to know. I'd bet that polls would show self-identified Dems endorsing this decision in large numbers.

But that's not the case among Republican voters. This is going to be a booger of a mess for them. On the one hand are the Christian right, who are interested in politics mainly to the degree that they can affect these kinds of "family values" laws. Then you have your old-fashioned New England moderates who are socially liberal. While both can agree on tax cuts (to a point), this is the kind of issue that splits them wide open.

But the Rev. Lou Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, warned on the courthouse steps, "We're talking about moving toward sanctioning homosexual marriage, slam dunk, across America in this decision. There is going to come a real line drawn in the sand."

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Recognizing the danger this rift can create, Bush has remained silent on the issue. But he won't be able to maintain that silence for long. Yesterday, Ari dodged the question, and wasn't pressured for further response:

Q And on the Texas sodomy case, does the President believe that gay men have the legal right to have sexual relations in the privacy of their own home?

MR. FLEISCHER: I think on this decision, the administration did not file a brief in this case, unlike in the Michigan case. And this is now a state matter.

Q So he has no position on this?

MR. FLEISCHER: It's just as I indicated, the administration did not file a brief on this -- as, I think, you know.

But that's going to change. You can bet that while the press is willing to let it go, the Christian right won't. What results is going to be mighty fascinating.

posted by Jeff | 11:15 AM |
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