Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003

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Penguin, 2008 - History - 514 pages
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A fascinating one-of-a-kind history of the government┬'s regulation of sexual behavior

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.
 

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User Review  - DSeanW - LibraryThing

While I was familiar with the decisions in Hardwick, Romer and Laurence this nuanced history of the cases and their social and historical contexts gave me great perspective on them and on their ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
American Body Politics and the Crime Against Nature 186081
13
From the Sodomite to the Homosexual 18811935
39
The Antihomosexual Kulturkampf 193561
73
The Cases Against Sodomy Laws 193561
109
Homo Equality and Sodomy Reform 196169
136
The Crime Against Nature After Stonewall 196975
166
Gay Civil Rights and a New Politics of Preservation 197586
194
The Crime Against Nature on Trial Bowers v Hardwick 1986
229
The Lawyers and Sodomy Come Out of Their Closets 19862003
265
Sodomy Law at the Alamo Lawrence v Texas 2003
299
American Public Law After Lawrence
331
Lawrence and Popular Constitutionalism
360
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

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.

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