Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Oooh, anal and oral sex.....the Supreme Court finally got exciting.

So two-thirds of a primarily conservative Supreme Court said that sodomy and oral sex cannot be outlawed, not just bewteen two partners of the same sex but between any two people. (In four states, the previous law made homosexual oral/anal sex illegal, while in nine states plus Puerto Rico even heterosexual "deviance" was outlawed.) Cheers, says I.

I wish I could say I believed this was a larger watershed event for gay rights. I wish it could be discussed in the same breath as the Fourteenth Amendment or even Brown v. The Board of Education. But I'll take what I can get, with the caveat, of course, that I won't be satisfied until gay (and otherwise sexually- or gender-ambiguous) Americans are allowed to live (and marry and inherit and adopt) to the same degree as heterosexual Americans.

My hope is that this decision will play a role in slowly changing society's general attitude towards sexual non-conformity. Certainly Americans do not directly correlate their opinions with the law. But I also believe that the law and the prevailing attitudes of the populace are mutually constituative; that is, the cultural climate influences law-makers at the same time that citizens use legality as a vague yardstick by which to measure the acceptability of an act. For example, though in 1955 an enormous number of Americans hated the idea of mixed-race classrooms, there was a palpable exigence in a large part of society calling for legislative civil rights; the culture had shifted significantly since Plessy v. Ferguson, and it was now receptive and even clamoring for institutional equality. The Supreme Court, though certainly a select sub-group, is both composed of members of mass society and atune to the cultural climate, and their decisions are inextricable from the shifting opinions of American society. Further, for example, once "separate but equal" was officially (legally) defined as unconstitutional (and therefore immoral), this gave strength to and perpetuated the cultural viability of racial equality; those arguing against equality could no longer site federal law to support their ideology. Another example of law influencing culture (and vice versa) is the California public smoking laws. Many of us now have been raised in a culture where smoking is simply not acceptable in restaurants and bars by law, and this in turn strongly influences our attitudes about smoking in general; it has been legally established that smoking is unhealthy and downright nasty, so this ideology infiltrates popular opinion regardless of law. My hope is that because the Supreme Court has made the right to consentual sexual interactions among adult homosexuals inaliable, that mass culture will follow.

Wow. A husband couldn't legally poke his wife in the butt in South Carolina until last week. Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, Utah, or Virginia, either.


Post a Comment