Under the category of not-so-hopeful politics… 365gay.com is reporting that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told law students at the University of Freiberg in Switzerland that gays don’t have civil rights.
In a recording of the March 8 speech, Scalia is heard to say:
"Question comes up: Is there a constitutional right to homosexual conduct? Not a hard question for me. It's absolutely clear that nobody ever thought when the Bill of Rights was adopted that it gave a right to homosexual conduct. Homosexual conduct was criminal for 200 years in every state. Easy question."Leaving aside the fact that if the court were to follow Scalia's reasoning, slavery would still be legal, this is an incredible statement.
Scalia’s quote comes only three years after the Supreme Court voted 6-3 to overturn state bans on sodomy. At that time, the court said the states don’t have the power to make laws regarding private sexual conduct.
Given that the two newest conservative justices have tilted the Supreme Court far to the right, Scalia’s comments should give us all reason for concern. Just as abortion foes are setting the stage for the Supreme Court to possibly overturn Roe v. Wade, anti-gay forces could set up a test case on sodomy laws.
I wonder what would happen politically if the court reinstituted these repressive laws, including the one in my own state of Kansas. The moment such a ruling were made, I and my friends would suddenly become criminals for doing nothing more than daring to express our love.
How would we react? How would the rest of the country react? Would the nation finally get to the point where such legal outrages produced a political backlash?
In case anyone is wondering, I am NOT arguing for an attack-the-court approach similar to the one employed by the religious right. I’m one of those silly folks who actually believes in the U.S. Constitution and our form of government. Yes friends, checks and balances are a good thing.
But, we could turn a defeat in the Supreme Court into a political victory. Even with a Supreme Court ruling favoring sodomy laws, we could win the fight in state legislatures to throw out these outdated and oppressive measures.
What would we and the sane straights in the country do in such a situation?
Would we think it was time to run, or would we finally reach a moment when more than just a few of us would stand up to these bullies?
I would prefer that we never face such a situation. If we have to, though, that time may well turn out to be the fulcrum on which the entire movement for civil rights for GLBT Americans turns.