Obviously, this audience is largely self-selecting. Still, most of the time I will get at least a few e-mails blasting my point of view – even if the most critical ones tend to be anonymous. Interestingly, though, on this controversy, no one has written to take Santorum’s side (or the President’s or the Majority Leader’s for defending him).

As usual, your comments are more interesting than mine:

Randy Woolf: ‘Santorum says, ‘If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy . . . polygamy . . . adultery . . . incest . . . anything.’ All logic classes will have been improved by this marvelously compact example of fallacious reasoning. Basically he is saying ‘gay sex should be forbidden, or you will have to allow other forbidden things.’ But the only relationship between the things on his list is that they are forbidden! Once gay sex is not forbidden, why would it be included in the list? Gay sex, which is victimless, has no parallel in bigamy, polygamy and adultery. You may as well say: ‘If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to make coffee in your home [stimulants are forbidden by some religions, after all], then you have the right to make crack cocaine . . .anthrax . . . anything.”

Rudy Serra (former Detroit Human Rights Commissioner): ‘It only requires a little thoughtful consideration to understand the false and hurtful nature of Santorum’s bigoted remarks:

The American Heritage Dictionary defines bigamy as: ‘The criminal offense of marrying one person while still legally married to another.’ The state has an interest in being able to identify the parties to any contract. Civil marriage, of course, is a contract. Accordingly, the state can assert an interest in limiting marriage to one spouse at a time. Doing so helps to define child support obligations, spousal support duties, and inheritance and property decisions. None of these interests apply to private, consensual, unpaid sexual activity between competent adults. (And, of course, gay people are not presently permitted to marry each other at all. Thus, it is impossible for them to commit bigamy.)

Polygamy is defined as: ‘The condition or practice of having more than one spouse at one time.’ Again, since it is the state that ‘licenses’ marriage and confers benefits to those who are married, the state has an interest in limiting marriage to one spouse at a time. In contrast, private, non-commercial adult sexual relationships involve no legitimate state interest. Imposing one group’s subjective definition of ‘sin’ is not a sufficient justification for making something a crime.

Adultery is: ‘Voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a partner other than the lawful spouse.’ Few states enforce laws against adultery because of the voluntary nature of the offense. Nonetheless, even here, a state interest in protecting the marriage contract and the innocent spouse creates some justification. In addition, once again, the interests of actual or potential offspring is also implicated. These justifications are absent in the case of sodomy since laws make sodomy a crime regardless of whether one of the participants is married. For those who view marriage as a religious sacrament, rather than a civil contract, the proscription against adultery is more often treated as a religious issue of ‘sin’ than a matter of felony laws.

Finally, incest is defined as: ‘Sexual relations between persons who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal or forbidden by custom.’ Since it is accepted that intra-family sexual relations result in genetic defects, the state can assert a legitimate interest in public health. In addition, the state has an interest in preventing the exploitation of younger, inexperienced persons subject to sexual aggression by those charged with raising them. Neither rationale applies in the case of sodomy.

Santorum’s statement was an attempt to create ‘guilt by association.’ By implying that the most vile and taboo of sexual acts were equivalent to gay sex, he foments prejudice.

Even his later rationalization was offensive and outrageous. He claimed that his remarks did not pertain to ‘lifestyles’ but that’s exactly what they did. His attempt to imply that there is a single, monolithic gay lifestyle is equally bigoted. Some gay people are celibate. Some are monogamous, some are promiscuous, and some have never experienced ‘sodomy’ (just like heterosexual people).

The University of Chicago Study entitled “Sex in America” concluded that up to 25% of Americans engage in anal sex at some point in their life. The term ‘sodomy,’ unfortunately, is religious in origin – and has been used to stigmatized everything from witchcraft to masturbation. The case being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court has nothing to do with incest, adultery, polygamy or bigamy. It has to do with recognizing that the state has no business telling competent adults in voluntary, non-commercial relationships what they can and cannot do unless there is some legitimate social interest. In the case of bigamy, polygamy, incest and adultery the interest is easy to identify. So is the bigotry in Santorum’s hurtful and hysterical rhetoric.

Douglas Pinter: ‘I believe there is an economic issue here – that civil rights and economic vitality are directly linked. Let me explain: In managing hundreds of employees in three shift operations, I found that there was always some rule, regulation or lack of incentive du jour that was touted as the cause of their lethargy, malaise, lack of commitment, etc. Most were corporate policies I didn’t have the authority to change. When I was able to alter a misguided policy, another one took its place as the new root of all evil.

‘I discovered that what unleashed creative and committed employees with new ideas that generated new services and profits was acknowledging the diversity in a workforce, not just ethnic, gender, economic or sexual, but psychological – some had career interests in the company, some were just paying the rent while they secretly couldn’t wait to leave. When I went around to the offices in my region, I acknowledged these differences and told them that they should honor that within themselves and that I would help them get to their next role in life or in the company – but that while we were working together in our current roles, we were going to commit to excellence. Turnover stopped, service went up, new ideas proliferated. By honoring them as individuals with a responsibility to participate fully in any way they could, we created our own regional economic prosperity and growth when performance in other regions of the country were flat.

‘The real issue is that narrow views of who is acceptable or what one ‘should be’ are straightjackets to human potential and therefore economic vitality. That doesn’t mean anything goes and it doesn’t mean we should accept polygamy and bestiality . . . but I think there is a strong argument in here about one of the real reasons we had prosperity during Clinton’s eight years. People felt valued. All people.’

David G: ‘For a party that preaches ‘family values,’ I have to ask what kind of values as a father does Dick Cheney have? The Vice President of the United States’ lesbian daughter’s lifestyle was just ripped by a Senator of the Vice President’s party, and yet, Cheney is silent. Maybe he can’t communicate his disgust from this week’s undisclosed location, but my goodness, if you love your child, and you outrank the guy who made these comments (last time I looked the VP was the PRESIDENT of the Senate), family values would dictate sticking up for your child.’

Jim Skinnell: ‘I took his comments to mean that if the Supreme Court were to allow sodomy, then they should allow all other acts that are currently illegal (murder, burglary, etc.). I think his choice of other illegal sexual acts for comparison was the big mistake. But, I also don’t know what the case really involves. Is it trying to overturn the conviction of the two men arrested? If so, then why not overturn a murder conviction? Or is to remove the law from the books? If the latter is the case, then his comments can certainly be taken as anti-gay and he should act accordingly and either apologize, resign, both, or more.’

☞ What is being decided at the Supreme Court is whether or not the Texas Homosexual Conduct law under which these guys were arrested and convicted is Constitutional. The Republican Governor of Texas and his predecessor, President Bush, both support the law – as Santorum obviously does. The justices, I expect, will find 9-0 that it is unconstitutional, even though some of them, I think, will find that way on limited grounds: namely that it’s fine for the government to outlaw oral sex, but then that has to apply to everybody, not just gay people. Of course, if my predictive powers with the Court are as good as my predictive powers with the Dow, there’s no telling what will happen.

Canaan Huie: ‘Senator Santorum stated, ‘I have nothing, absolutely nothing against anyone who’s homosexual. If that’s their orientation, then I accept that. And I have no problem with someone who has other orientations. The question is, do you act upon those orientations? So it’s not the person, it’s the person’s actions.’ My immediate reaction to that statement was that I must not be as big a person as Sen. Santorum, because I do have a problem with intolerant bigots, regardless of whether they act on that orientation. This type of statement always seems so hypocritical because it can be applied to practically any situation (for example, one could say ‘I have no problem with feminists, I just have a problem with anyone who acts on the belief that women should be treated equally to men.’) I guess Sen. Santorum feels that gays and lesbians have the right to life and to some liberty, but not to the pursuit of happiness.

‘He also stated: ‘You say, well, it’s my individual freedom. Yes, but it destroys the basic unit of our society because it condones behavior that’s antithetical to strong, healthy families.’ I give families much more credit than Sen. Santorum does. First, many families made up entirely or partly by people who engage in ‘homosexual behavior’ are strong and healthy – just as many purely ‘heterosexually-behaving’ families are dysfunctional beyond belief. Second, if an act of gay sex can ‘destroy the basic unit of our society,’ it doesn’t say much about the strength of families.’

Stephen Gilbert: ‘I don’t understand why many Democrats (especially those in elected office) can’t help responding to people like Lott and Santorum by demanding that the Republicans remove them from their positions of power. My understanding of what the Republican party stands for today seems to require that such people be its standard bearers. When they ‘go public,’ it increases the chance that a few more voters will see what the party is about.’

Chip Ellis: ‘I thank you for printing my comments last week. As a member of Log Cabin for 12 years [the gay Republicans], I see this as a pivotal time for the Republican Party. Santorum’s comments may turn out to be a good thing if public reaction is strong. The Supreme Court Justices may see that it is now unacceptable to the public to uphold anti-gay sodomy laws – that is, mainstream views toward gays and lesbians have changed since the Georgia sodomy case [Bowers v. Hardwick, 1986].’

☞ As mentioned above, I think we may well get a 9-0 decision our way, so the even the conservative Justices can, in effect, all say – look, we’re not bigots – and then go on to find against us on employment, adoption, hate crimes, the military, immigration and civil unions. So it’s great that Log Cabin tries to educate the Party from within – sincere thanks for your work toward that end. But now that the Republicans have proven themselves three administrations running to be wild deficit spenders, adding trillions to our national debt, why are you a Republican? Because you’re against stem cell research? Because you favor weak Treasury Secretaries and S.E.C. chairs? Oops. I’m getting oppressive. All I really mean to say is: If you ever decide to make the switch, you would be most welcome in the Democratic Party. But if Bush/Ashcroft win again, the Judiciary is going to shift further toward the Santorum point of view.

Jarett C: ‘You’ve finally posted a political position I agree with. However your take on it may be a bit too dismal. Surely this is exactly the sort of case that could bring the ‘sex offender’ list to the Supreme Court so they can declare the list as unconstitutional. I am registered as a member of the Republican Party, and on all matters of fiscal importance, I tend to agree with the opinions of the Republican Party [adding trillions to the Debt to fund tax cuts for the very wealthy]; however I feel that many of our elected officials seem to have confused ‘amendment’ with ‘Commandment.’ What I think would be more appropriate to look at is the age of consent in this country, which can be as low as 13 (for homosexual relations) or 14 (for heterosexual relations). Ask yourself: Should a 16-year-old girl having consensual sex with her 15-year-old boyfriend be criminalized long after her juvenile record is sealed and be branded as a ‘sex offender’ for life?’

Next column: I swear it will have something to do with money, even if I have to give each of you a dime myself.

 

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