Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003

Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003

by William N. Eskridge Jr.

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From the Pentagon to the wedding chapel, there are few issues more controversial today than gay rights. As William Eskridge persuasively demonstrates in Dishonorable Passions, there is nothing new about this political and legal obsession. The American colonies and the early states prohibited sodomy as the crime against nature, but rarely punished such conduct if it took place behind closed doors. By the twentieth century, America’s emerging regulatory state targeted degenerates and (later) homosexuals.  The witch hunts of the McCarthy era caught very few Communists but ruined the lives of thousands of homosexuals. The nation’s sexual revolution of the 1960s fueled a social movement of people seeking repeal of sodomy laws, but it was not until the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas (2003) that private sex between consenting adults was decriminalized. With dramatic stories of both the hunted (Walt Whitman and Margaret Mead) and the hunters (Earl Warren and J. Edgar Hoover), Dishonorable Passions reveals how American sodomy laws affected the lives of both homosexual and heterosexual Americans. Certain to provoke heated debate, Dishonorable Passions is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of sexuality and its regulation in the United States

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440631108
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/01/2008
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 528
File size: 3 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

William N. Eskridge, Jr., is John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale Law School. His research and writings provided a foundation for the landmark Supreme Court ruling of Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which invalidated consensual sodomy laws. He is the coauthor (with Darren Spedale) of Gay Marriage: For Better or for Worse? and author of Gaylaw: Challenging the Apartheid of the Closet.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii
Introduction     1
American Body Politics and the Crime Against Nature, 1861-81     13
From the Sodomite to the Homosexual, 1881-1935     39
The Antihomosexual Kulturkampf, 1935-61     73
The Case(s) Against Sodomy Laws, 1935-61     109
Homo Equality and Sodomy Reform, 1961-69     136
The Crime Against Nature After Stonewall, 1969-75     166
Gay Civil Rights and a New Politics of Preservation, 1975-86     194
The Crime Against Nature on Trial, Bowers v. Hardwick, 1986     229
The Lawyers and Sodomy Come Out of Their Closets, 1986-2003     265
Sodomy Law at the Alamo, Lawrence v. Texas, 2003     299
American Public Law After Lawrence     331
Lawrence and Popular Constitutionalism     360
The Evolution of State Sodomy Laws, Colonial Times to Lawrence v. Texas (2003)     387
Notes     409
Index     495

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