not quite free at last

Yes, Arkansas's Supreme Court has overturned the state's sodomy law, but too many people have had no real problem living for 25 years with its appalling assault on queers, and in fact on human rights everywhere.

Neither Arkansas nor the Clintons, who still symbolize the state for most of America, should get off so easily.

Both Clintons lived with the law while in the Arkansas governor's mansion, and failed even to make use of the bully pulpit they occupied even to question it. Bill Clinton's sad and cowardly record in Arkansas on this and issues relating to HIV became dramatically problematic for activists around the country when he began to seek the presidency.

Disguised as a monied Democrat I crashed a private fundraiser here in New York prior to his nomination and succeeded in speaking to him a deux about AIDS and his record on gay rights as governor. His response was dissembling at best (memo to self as candidate: 'must not displease anybody'). I didn't trust him then and still do not. Hillary Clinton has demonstrated herself as no improvement on the earlier Clinton model.

But let's rejoice a little. And as my partner says, now we can finally go visit Mom.

By the way, this latest development in Little Rock now puts Arkansas in line with the great progressive Empire State of New York! Sodomy laws in each state were overturned by their supreme courts, not by their people or their legislatures, and in both states the laws even now remain recorded, if temporarily nullified. A new environment and new court decisions could turn things upside down once again overnight in either state. Apparently in neither is there enough humanity or courage to eliminate the law from the statute books entirely.

As always, our lives, our liberties, remain the creatures of public opinion, since even the courts are the reflection of that opinion.

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Published on July 6, 2002 3:00 PM.

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