Privacy rights upheld

A law branding one class of persons as criminal solely based on the state’s moral disapproval of that class and the conduct associated with that class runs contrary to the values of the Constitution.

-Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that consenting adults have the right to engage in whatever sexual practices they wish in private, without interference from government. The high court’s decision thus invalidated anti-sodomy laws in a number of states, including Virginia.

The reaction from the far right was predictable.

Archconservatives, including Prince William County’s very own Delegate Robert G. Marshall, R-Manassas, were outraged. Marshall was one of the first to speak up, telling the Potomac News that it was an “off-the-wall decision by these off-the-wall judges on the Supreme Court.”

He added that he considers the justices “black robed-lawyers [who] are the horsemen of the culture of death.”

More comments by Marshall appeared in the June 29 issue of another newspaper. He told a reporter “the apocalypse for society is contained in this decision.” He vowed to fight the effect of the court’s action by opposing any furthering of such rights in Virginia. Religious fundamentalists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were similarly critical of the court’s decision, according to the newspaper.

All of this posturing and righteous indignation by right-wing extremists strikes me as mean-spirited and hypocritical.

Other members of the far right – particularly those who wear their religiosity on their sleeves -?like to present themselves to the community as god-fearing citizens who (gasp!) would never personally engage in certain “illegal” sexual acts. What liars. What hypocrites.

Mainstream citizens and politicians, to their immense credit, reacted to the news about the court’s decision with restraint. Most saw that the real issues were whether or not gays and straights had equal rights under the law and whether or not citizens have a right of privacy.

The majority decision and the separate concurring decision by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor addressed these fundamental issues in a precise, cogent manner. All the histrionics in the world by the members of the far right will not change that.

When I first heard about the court’s decision, I considered it in the context of classical liberal theory, which holds that government should protect citizens and promote their welfare without intruding into their private lives. Mindful of this, I concluded that the court’s decision and reasoning were correct.

I’m confident mainstream citizens from both political parties agree. All the hand wringing and foot stomping in the world by the archconservatives will not change that fact.

Gary Jacobsen lives in Woodbridge.