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Dishonorable Passions

Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003

Dishonorable Passions by William N. Eskridge
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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
Penguin Publishing Group; May 2008
528 pages; ISBN 9781440631108
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Title: Dishonorable Passions
Author: William N. Eskridge
  • News
Eskridge surveys history of US sodomy laws - San Francisco Chronicle
Fri, 09 May 2008 21:14:01 -0700
San Francisco ChronicleEskridge surveys history of US sodomy lawsSan Francisco ChronicleThis is just one of the lessons taught ...