Dear Senator Santorum

10/12/2006 01:01 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Senator Rick Santorum is running for reelection in Pennsylvania, where I live. He has not been doing well in the polls; I am hoping, hoping, hoping he gets voted out.

Because the election is near, I thought it would be nice and fun to wander down memory lane and remember Rick's famous April 20, 2003 taped interview with the Associated Press.

(Through the magic of the internet, the link to the interview is the full, unedited version.)

This interview was given shortly before the Supreme Court was to hear the Lawrence v. Texas challenge to the previous 1986 Bowers v. Hardwicke decision which ruled 5-4 that states could criminalize private, consenting homosexual acts.

Lawrence v. Texas overturned that earlier ruling by 6-3. Justice Anthony Kennedy read from the bench: "Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today. It ought not to remain binding precedent. Bowers v. Hardwick should be and now is overruled."

This, to me, was a triumph of reason and reasonableness, as well as a necessary separation of church and state. All the opposition to PRIVATE, CONSENSUAL homosexual activity all boiled down to "because God said so." (Well there's also the literalist position that the constitution doesn't mention the word "privacy," and so citizens cannot expect to have any. That was Clarence Thomas' position, though surprisingly he wrote that the Texas law forbidding consensual sex was "uncommonly silly."

However, before the Court made this decision, Santorum came out strongly saying the Court must not overturn the earlier decision. At the time I wrote a letter to Senator Santorum, and I reprint it below... after first quoting a bit from the Associated Press interview that so enraged/amazed/flabbergasted many of us.

Here are excertps from that interview:

AP: I mean, should we outlaw homosexuality?

SANTORUM: I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts. As I would with acts of other, what I would consider to be, acts outside of traditional heterosexual relationships. And that includes a variety of different acts, not just homosexual. I have nothing, absolutely nothing against anyone who's homosexual. If that's their orientation, then I accept that.... The question is, do you act upon those orientations? So it's not the person, it's the person's actions....

AP: OK, without being too gory or graphic, so if somebody is homosexual, you would argue that they should not have sex?

SANTORUM: 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.... Whether it's polygamy, whether it's adultery, where it's sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.... 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 --

AP: I'm sorry, I didn't think I was going to talk about "man on dog" with a United States senator, it's sort of freaking me out.

SANTORUM: And that's sort of where we are in today's world, unfortunately. 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. And we're seeing it in our society.

AP: Sorry, I just never expected to talk about that when I came over here to interview you. Would a President Santorum eliminate a right to privacy -- you don't agree with it?

SANTORUM: I've been very clear about that. The right to privacy is a right that was created in a law[Griswald] that set forth a (ban on) rights to limit individual passions. And I don't agree with that..... I don't agree with the Supreme Court coming in.

There! Did you enjoy revisiting that?

At the time I wrote a "Dear Senator Santorum" letter because I thought, damn it, I live in Pennsylvania, he's supposedly "my representative" and he is representing the opposite of what I believe. I wanted him to know he was not representing a lot of us in the state of Pennsylvania. I wasn't able to place the "letter" in a publication at the time, but now through the magic of the Huffington Post I am able to print it myself here. And I hope, hope, hope he gets voted out.

April 22, 2003

Dear Senator Santorum,

As a resident of Pennsylvania and as a self-hating gay man, still in the closet (please don't tell anyone), I am so grateful to you for your recent remarks regarding the upcoming challenge to the 1986 Supreme Court ruling that said states had the right to arrest consenting adult homosexuals for sexual acts committed in the privacy of their homes.

My partner of 16 years and I have not yet had sex, partially because of the wisdom of the Supreme Court threatening us with arrest.

Senator Santorum, I totally understand your concern for The Family, and how The Family may be affected by things I do with my genitals.

I, like you, was raised Catholic, and so much of my early morality came from that teaching. I fell away for a while, but I have returned to the church with great energy, and find myself in alignment with many of your points.

After all, though Christ Himself says nothing about homosexuality, Saint Paul condemns it (though he doesn't seem to like marriage much either, but then saints can be forgiven for preferring celibacy to everything). And the Book of Leviticus condemns both homosexuals and adulterers, and says they should be stoned to death.

And, of course, all you're advocating is prison time for homosexuals.

I wonder if you have fallen sway to the liberal media, or listening to Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins too much. Maybe you should advocate the stoning of homosexuals, rather than just imprisonment.

I know it would be a great help to me in my ongoing desire to resist my homosexual impulses to know that you were out there, standing ready with a great big rock.

Of course, I know Christ said "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." But I don't think Christ really meant that, do you? I think there are a lot of things Christ said He didn't mean - "it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven." I mean, that suggests something's wrong with the CEO's and the Bush family, but surely that's not true, it's me and my genitals which concern you and Jesus.

The Book of Leviticus mentions that adulterers should be stoned to death too, and I was glad to see that you included adultery on your list of evils that might follow if the Supreme Court doesn't reassert the right to imprison homosexuals. Dare I hope that you intend to criminalize adultery too?

I'm so proud you recently helped to push through the Faith Based Initiative legislation, whereby government funding can go to religious groups. Surely, the Founding Fathers did not really mean for there to be a separation of church and state. The point is, you have to ascertain which are the TRUE religious groups that God likes, and which are the crackpot ones; and only choose the true ones. Since you are such a learned man and so full of compassion, I know you are among the very best people in the country to make that distinction.

In closing, I am so grateful for all your help in shaming me into controlling my genitals. Indeed, inspired by your concern for the American Family, I intend to kick my partner out, pursue a woman I'm not attracted to, and have children as soon as possible. God bless you.


Your constituent, Christopher Durang