This sea change in conservative attitudes became pronounced in 1982 when the facts were made known in a Georgia legal case (Bowers v. Hardwick) that involved the arrest of two homosexuals who were caught having sex in the privacy of their bedroom by a local police officer and charged under the state's criminal sodomy laws. It wasn't the lurid details of the case that shocked us all; it was the privacy concern. The case made its way to the United States Supreme Court where it was decided that there is nothing in the Constitution that "would extend a fundamental right to homosexuals to engage in acts of consensual sodomy."
It wasn't until June 2003 in another case with a similar background (Lawrence v. Texas) that the Supreme Court finally reversed itself and essentially voided all sodomy laws, finding privacy rights of individual Americans to be paramount. The court was right in doing so.
On the subject of gay partnerships, it was then that we found common ground. Though many of us have a deep-seated problem with homosexuality generally, we knew it was not our place to interfere in gays' private lives. It was only right that they be left alone.
As it turned out, we walked common ground for only a few months. In February of the following year, the social contract -- the implicit agreement into which homosexuals and libertarians had entered -- was shredded by a liberal, some would say reckless, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that found, somehow, the state's age-old ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional. What was tolerated if kept private was now -- as required by law -- to be sanctified.
Chaos has ensued.
In May 2004, Massachusetts began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
The upheaval wasn't confined to the Bay State. Beginning in 2004, leftist mayors around the country began issuing marriage licenses and courts in the states involved smacked each one of them down. In Nebraska in 2005, an amendment banning gay marriage that had been passed overwhelmingly by the people was overturned by another liberal judge. In October of that year, the California legislature passed a law making homosexual marriage legal, but quickly saw it vetoed by the governor.
So far this year, a city judge in Baltimore and a county judge in Georgia have voided a state law and a constitutional amendment respectively. Dozens of state legislatures have passed Defense of Marriage Amendments, and they are in various stages of ratification.
Bedlam exists throughout the land because the liberal left saw society's willingness to tolerate homosexuals as long as they kept their interactions in the privacy of their homes. They took our tolerance to be acceptance and then demanded from us sanction.
Which brings us to the marriage amendment on the November ballot here in Virginia.
Some, like NAACP Chairman Julian Bond in a slippery commentary that appeared in The Roanoke Times on Aug. 18 ("Virginia is no longer for lovers"), claim that we are trying to turn back the clock and that homosexuals' civil rights are under assault. Others suggest that the state doesn't need a constitutional amendment since the commonwealth already has laws on the books proscribing gay marriage. Still others charge that the constitution shouldn't be used to discriminate against one segment of the populace.
In any case, none of this would have been necessary had the liberal left -- in this instance, four renegade judges -- not misconstrued our interest in tolerance and from it demanded that we sanctify homosexual relationships.
None of us wishes to see the gay community returned "to the closet." But make no mistake, we fully intend to bring order out of this chaos.