Ten years ago yesterday, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum gave his infamous “man on dog sex” interview.
Most people focus on those comments and how they apply to the gay rights debate, but what everyone overlooks is that what he said was that nobody, gay or straight, has a right to private sexual activity in the privacy of their own home. No one:
We have laws in states, like the one at the Supreme Court right now, that has sodomy laws and they were there for a purpose. Because, again, I would argue, they undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family. And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold—Griswold was the contraceptive case—and abortion. And now we’re just extending it out. And the further you extend it out, the more you—this freedom actually intervenes and affects the family. You say, well, it’s my individual freedom. Yes, but it destroys the basic unit of our society because it condones behavior that’s antithetical to strong healthy families. Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, where it’s sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.
Every society in the history of man has upheld the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. Why? Because society is based on one thing: that society is based on the future of the society. And that’s what? Children. Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality —
It is also more than a bit misleading to say that he was only talking about gay marriage. Yes, gay marriage was a major part of the rant, but private sexual conduct and the more fundamental right to privacy was what he was coming out against. The court case he was answering questions about had nothing to do with marriage: it was whether or not people ought to be arrested and charged with a crime for consensual, private, sex between adults. Any adults.
He even comes out against birth control in there. Because it isn’t merely that he thinks gay people are abominations, he thinks that it is right and proper for society (through the full force of the law) to impose his religious-based beliefs about all sexual conduct, including the use of birth control by married, straight people.
Yes, we should be outraged that he compared committed relationships between gay people to “man on dog” sex. We should be outraged that he was considered a serious contender for the Republican Presidential nomination just last year, when he doubled-down on his comments. But we need to see him for what he is, not just an anti-gay bigot, but a man determined to control other people on every level. A man whose definition of freedom is: “You must behave as I say, or else.”
After he made those remarks, a lot of people in the gay community were upset, and rightly so. Some tried to even answer is comments calmly and reasonably.
The senator wasn’t removed from his post, because his party’s most ardent supporters agreed that gay people who form committed relationships are nearly the same as man on dog sex. It wasn’t just the archconservatives who thought that. The controversy was dying because a lot of people in the other party didn’t think much better of gay people. They wouldn’t come out and say it as crudely as he did, but a lot them thought of gay relationships as being merely about sex—deviant sex, at that—and not really about love.
The controversy might have been forgotten by everyone except those of us in the LGBT community, except a regular reader of the Savage Love column wrote in suggesting a contest: let’s make sure he’s never forgotten by naming a sex act after him. And so the contest was launched, and soon a very childish and gross definition had been picked. Santorum would henceforth be the name of “the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.”
A web domain was purchased, SpreadingSantorum.com, and people started linking to it. Years later this would be the source of Santorum’s so-called “Google Problem.”
Some people who oppose Mr Santorum’s agenda think it is rude, wrong, and uncalled for to continue to associate his name with such an act. I will agree it is rude, but sometimes rudeness is exactly what’s called for. Such as when you have someone who believes things like:
“One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”
“Look at the political base of the Democratic Party: It is single mothers who run a household. Why? Because it’s so tough economically that they look to the government for help and therefore they’re going to vote. So if you want to reduce the Democratic advantage, what you want to do is build two parent families, you eliminate that desire for government.”
“[Gay marriage] threatens my marriage. It threatens all marriages. It threatens the traditional values of this country.”
“The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical.
“You can say I’m a hater. But I would argue I’m a lover. I’m a lover of traditional families and of the right of children to have a mother and father. I would argue that the future of America hangs in the balance, because the future of the family hangs in the balance. Isn’t that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?”
“The idea is that the state doesn’t have rights to limit individuals’ wants and passions. I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire.”
The worst is that a man who was so openly prejudiced and brazenly out to legislate his religion on everyone else became a serious contender for a major party nomination for several months. That is far viler than the purile re-branding of his name.