Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has come under heavy attack for statements allegedly equating homosexuals with bigamists and other undesirable characters. This New York Times hatchet job is typical. Democrats and gay activists have demanded that Santorum resign as leader of the Senate Republican Conference.
Santorum has defended his remarks and refused to apologize.
Actually, what Santorum said was pretty sensible, regardless of one’s view of homosexuality. The full text of the A.P. interview that gave rise to the controversy is here. Santorum was talking in the context of the Texas case now on appeal to the Supreme Court, about the theory that there is a Constitutional right to perform consensual sexual acts. Santorum pointed out, reasonably enough, that that standard, if accepted, would presumably require approval of polygamy, incest, bestiality and other practices that are reasonably considered detrimental to normal family life. And Santorum criticized–correctly, I think–the Griswold case, in which the Supreme Court, at the height of its liberal activism, manufactured a “right of privacy” out of whole cloth. (Actually, the oddest thing about the A.P. interview is the rather bizarre conduct of the interviewer.)
Eugene Volokh analyzes the controversy and concludes that Santorum’s position is reasonable. Volokh’s own view is that all of the above practices should be legal, and might well be Constitutionally protected. But he acknowledges the validity of the argument that the “consensual sex” theory would likely require approval of the other practices referred to by Santorum. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is, of course, debatable, but I suspect more people would side with Santorum on that point than with Volokh.
Incidentally, the Trunk and I wrote an article a few years ago, during the Clinton impeachment process, about the prevailing idea that whatever “consenting adults” do must necessarily be O.K. See the link to “Clinton” at left.
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