Right Wing Bigotry
Michael J. Totten condemns a unanimous vote by the commissioners
of Rhea County, Tennessee to “introduce legislation amending Tennessee’s criminal code so the county can charge homosexuals with crimes against nature.”
How, exactly, do these people expect to implement this law should it ever come to pass? Would there be a central database somewhere that keeps track of all the gay names? Would property be confiscated?
What, I might ask, would conservatives think if Berkeley tried to pull a stunt like this to keep Christians out?
This is worse, actually, than mere bigotry. This is the sort of religious control freakery I expect to see in Iran.
Clearly, such a law has no chance of passing; this is a political stunt by local lawmakers that one guesses would be quite popular in an ultra-conservative community.
I’m not quite sure what it is that “crimes against nature” entails. Such a law would almost certainly be ruled unconstitutionally vague and, in light of last term’s ruling against the Texas sodomy law, would certainly be ruled unconstitutional on privacy grounds as well. But I’d note that, as recently as 1986, the Supreme Court held sodomy laws to be within the power of localities.
I agree with Michael that this proposed legislation is bigoted and think it’s horrible public policy for a variety of reasons. But I don’t think it’s comparable in any way to the fundamentalist regime in Iran. A law in Berkeley to keep Christians out would obviously be a violation of the Establishment Clause. But Christians–and atheists, for that matter–have a perfect right to seek to pass legislation regulating conduct that violates their mores, regardless of whether they’re religiously motivated. Religious people have as much right to try to shape public policy as labor unions, trial lawyers, corporations, and other interest groups.