Free at Last?

What the Sodomy Ruling Has Changed—and What It Hasn't

Whatever difference it ultimately makes to gay rights, the sodomy ruling has already changed gay consciousness. Above all, this is a symbolic victory, one that knocks the socks off the stigma that has shaped us. The result will show in everything from the way we hold our bodies to the response we get from society. As fear of sexual pollution eases, it could well be replaced by delight in sexual diversity. In that sense, this truly is a brave new world.

But it's worth noting that a century passed between the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took generations of struggle to truly change the condition of the former slaves. Things are not so different for former sodomites. Frederick Douglass's exhortation to African Americans also applies to us, even in our moment of glory: "Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!"

Sidebar: "Attention, Sodomites! Reflections on the Supreme Court Ruling" by Richard Goldstein

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