To be sure, the fact that so many states decided to bar gay marriage -- and eight of them outlawed even civil unions or similar relations (curiously, Mississippi and Montana, two notoriously conservative states, did not, along with less conservative Oregon) -- is depressing. On the other hand, as many people note, it could have been worse. It could have been more widespread; the federal constitutional amendment could have passed -- and make no mistake; if it ever gets out of Congress, it will pass -- the laws that did pass could have been more draconian.
And all that said, given that so many of the laws did pass, with so very little dissent ... how far are we from becoming, say, Zanzibar?
ZANZIBAR (Reuters) - It's the eve of Ramadan, the holy month for Muslims, but Hamedi says he will not set foot in a mosque for the
whole fasting period, or at any other time for that matter.
As a homosexual in the devoutly Islamic Indian Ocean island, Hamedi is afraid other worshippers will attack him if he dares enter a
mosque. "They know I am gay, they throw stones at me on the streets, they insult me. I don't have time for them, I keep to my business," Hamedi
said, asking that his name and profession be kept secret.
To the outside world, Zanzibar is a laid-back tourist's paradise but in recent months, Islamic groups have spearheaded a campaign to
cleanse the island of "corrupting" practices such as homosexuality and alcohol. In August, the government of the semi-autonomous island archipelago that forms part of Tanzania, outlawed gay sex and set prison terms of up to 25 years for men and seven years for lesbians. The law also set a penalty of life imprisonment for sodomising a minor.
The government argues there has always been a law against homosexuality, but that it was vague. Officials say the revised legislation is
effective because it defines clearly what parliament considers indecent sexual practices.
Technically speaking, of course, we couldn't become Zanzibar, as far as the legal side goes. Homosexuality or homosexual practices couldn't be outlawed without running afoul of Lawrence vs Texas; it would take a constitutional amendment to get around that.
But given the passage of so many anti-gay state constitutional amendments, I would imagine that not a few states will try.Posted by iain at November 09, 2004 11:28 AM