Michigan’s new sodomy law highlights this country’s childishness about sex
Most Americans understand that the 2003 Supreme Court decision we call Lawrence v. Texas ruled that sodomy laws in this country are unconstitutional. Specifically, the court ruled that intimate consensual sexual conduct is part of the liberty protected by the 14th Amendment.
Justice Anthony Kennedy put it succinctly in the ruling:
“The petitioners [Lawrence and Garner] are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.”
Shorthand? Get the hell out of people’s bedrooms.
But apparently, the Michigan Legislature isn’t most Americans. And apparently they have either failed to get the 12-plus-years-old news about sodomy laws, or they are just selectively ignoring it.
I’ll lay money on the latter.
The Michigan Senate recently amended an existing law pertaining to animal cruelty to prohibit bestiality. But it was the sneaky inclusion of the three words “either with mankind,” just before the prohibition of sex with animals, that is making headlines.
What it does is, in effect, make any oral or anal sex illegal and punishable by “one day to life in prison.”
And Michigan isn’t alone. There are similar laws being proposed or passed in Idaho, Utah, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.
Meanwhile in our great state of Texas, the law is still on the books but only in regard to same-sex partners.
These legislators know full well this law is unconstitutional in regard to human partners and most likely would never hold up in a court.
Then why are they passing or trying to pass these laws?
That is the big question. Let me attempt to answer it for you.
Conservative lawmakers are behind these stupid laws, and they are doing it to try and play to their right-wing, anti-gay constituents.
Politics at the state level is even more of a stage show than in Congress. The actors posture in ceremonial poses like Kabuki theater, making broad melodramatic gestures that send multiple messages.
For those who understand the art, the message is much different than it is to a casual observer. The symbolic dance is geared toward the frightened conservative voter who is not just uncomfortable discussing sex, but with even the mere idea of sex — and especially sex that is non-missionary.
Those voters watch this choreography and take away the message that “Our lawmakers are watching out for the morals and values of our communities. They are outlawing that unnatural abomination of sodomy, something we cannot even think about much less discuss.”
These are the kinds of folks that have the sexual maturity of a prepubescent teen and blush at underwear ads in the JC Penny catalog.
They really don’t understand or care that the laws are unenforceable and a nuisance at best.
For these conservative voters, there is a hidden message in the antics of these lawmakers passing unenforceable laws: “My legislator is doing God’s work. Those godless Supreme Court justices might not understand how important this is, but my lawmakers do!”
So next election cycle, those same conservative legislators will be back in their respective statehouses, doing their stylized dances.
Meanwhile, some of us Americans who might fall afoul of these statutes will spend our treasure and time fighting a law that is nonsense to begin with.
For the legislators, it is a win-win.
The whole problem comes back to our country’s inability to talk about sex without snickering and blushing — or making it illegal. That is a fucked up thing, but it is the reality of the U.S.A.
It is the reason we don’t have real sex education in our schools. It is the reason we have campaigns against “human trafficking” that in reality just jail a lot of sex workers.
It is why we have homophobic politicians constantly getting caught with their metaphorical and actual pants down having gay sex.
It’s time we grow up America!
We have been adolescents long enough. The rest of the world has grown up and moved on to adulthood in regards to sex. Our country’s inability to do the same is holding us back from becoming the mature and rational democracy our forefathers envisioned.
It’s time to start talking about sex: pleasurable sex, procreative sex, recreational sex — all kinds of sex. We have to get over this roadblock to our country’s maturity.
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board member for the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 12, 2016.