Re: The Supreme Court Ruling on Sodomy

I did quite a bit of research on Bowers v Hardwick (the original ruling that
allowed states to have sodomy laws) a couple of years ago so I might be able
to offer some insight. First of all, it is important to understand that,
while sodomy was technically illegal in some states, indictments for
consentual sodomy have been extremely sparse since Bowers (on the order of
10-20). Almost any charge of sodomy involves either rape, or statutory
rape. Second, sodomy has never been illegal on the federal level. Bowers
only says that states can have anti-sodomy laws. Two years ago, when I was
researching this topic, most states had already gotten rid of their sodomy
laws. Third, Bowers was initially used (from 1986 when the ruling was made
to the early 90s) by lower circut courts to uphold job discrimination
against gays, and prevent gay marriage. This has occured less and less over
the last few years however.

So what does this all say? To me it is demonstrative that Foucault was
right in attacking the "law-and-sovereign" model of power. Foucault argued
several times that the state is by no means a monolithic entity, and that it
was merely the "strategic codification" of the power relations which exist
within and between social institutions. It seems that this latest ruling is
not so much some final victory that will bring sweeping social changes. It
seems to be more an effect of the ongoing changes in the discourses
surrounding homosexuality. While it would be wrong to say the new ruling
won't change anything, I would say that it is probably more a symptom of
ongoing change than a great event that will fuel future change.

It might be interesting to study the power dynamics surrounding the Brown v
Board decision. At that time the US was much more geographically and
culturally divided. And while segregation had been rejected by the north
and this rejection had become codified in a supreme court case, the south
was still very much in favor of segregation. Some years after Brown v
Board, racism began to gradually subside in the south. What role could
Brown v Board (a ruling which, to the south, was made externally) have
played in this great cultural shift?

Sorry if any of this doesn't make sense, I'm way to hung over to do any
revising now ;)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Christopher Daly" <dalyjazz@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, June 29, 2003 11:22 AM
Subject: The Supreme Court Ruling on Sodomy

> Now that it is no longer illegal to practice gay or lesbian sex or sodomy*
> are there any who would care to venture speculations about how this will
> shift the power relations in the US, e.g. will gender and sexual
> become a more prominent aspect of public life? will this diminish the
> and influence of the "Christian right"?
> * Heterosexuals have been know to practice sodomy. Perhaps this is one
> reason why the Court decided that it could no longer allow it to be
> and if sodomy is not illegal then how can gay or lesbian sex be illegal?
> _________________________________________________________________
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