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‘..miumegamsnimew, said the judges, but DNA rules when it comes to matrimony. In Texas, marriage is strictly an XY + XX thing. At first glance there was nothing remarkable about this reactionary decision, but Houston lawyer Phyllis Frye looked further. Frye is a feisty, male-to-female transsexual who got Houston’s ban against cross-dressing rescinded in 1980. Now she did some creative algebra with Wicks’ and Manhart’s DNA. Wicks = female but born male = XY. Manhart = always female = XX. Perfect for wedlock in San Antonio! So the two lesbians went there with their birth certificates to get a marriage license, and the county clerk obliged. Frye called for more queer couples with a trannie member to get hitched near the Alamo or in some three dozen other Texas counties under the jurisdiction of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Nationwide, analysts of gay politics looked at Christie Littleton’s case and the sexual identity issues it raised. Some predicted it would speed up the legalization of same-sex marriage among people with like DNA. Bluebonnets, armadillos, puffy tacos, gay matrimony. Who’d have thought Texas could promote such a concept, much less export it? An even more dramatic gay rights scenario was Lawrence v. Texas. That’s the case that started in Houston after cops in 1998 barged in on John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Gardner having sex in their bedroom and busted them under a law forbidding consensual sodomy. Though 50 years ago every state had such a criminal statute, by the end of the 20th century only 13 did. But those archaic vestiges provided legal justification for anti-gay policy in the military, government reluctance to let gays adopt children, andof coursethe virtual prohibition of same-sex unions nationwide. Lawrence and Gardner felt shafted, so they sued and their case went to the top. As a result, the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned Texas’ anti-sodomy law and, by extension, those of other states. The implications are momentousa fact remarked upon by conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who, dissenting from majority opinion, denounced his fellow justices for having “taken sides in the culture war.” Pundits pooh-poohed Scalia as an old crank. But he was right. The Lawrence v. Texas ruling essentially apologized for a 1986 Supreme Court decision upholding laws against sodomy on grounds that “prescriptions against that conduct have ancient roots.” Balderdash, said the judges in Lawrence. They cited contemporary historians of queerdompeople working in the Frenchy deconstructionist vein of, say Jacques Derridaand their finding that same-sex sex was not traditionally outlawed in England or America. The real bugaboo was sex that was clearly non-procreative, including blow jobs between husband and wife. Such prohibitions are now pass, said the Supremes. “Later generations,” they wrote in Lawrence, “can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.” This isn’t the old, public-hygiene rhetoric of Roe v. Wade. That case, too, was a grand assault on the dictatorship of sex for procreation. But Roe talk was about privacy, the threat of death through back-alley abortion, pregnancy being risky to one’s health, and making “every child a wanted child.” Lawrence v. Texas, on the other hand, is straight up about fucking. Fucking just for fun! Plus, it topples a final juridical obstacle to the legalization of gay marriage. How much more culture wars can you get? How much more acknowledgmt of irrevocable social change? And from Texas already. Yee awcool story! The day after Lawrence was decided, Lone Star gays must have been partying down, including not a few writers. But the Observer ran nothing about Lawrence. Nothing about San Antonian Christie Lee Littleton’s exciting case, either. In fact, unless it’s about how unremittingly awful and repressive things are, a TO article about sex in Texas is as scarce as a county with an abortion clinic. What’s the problem? o begin with, as every TO reader knows, those counties minus clinics are way more than a metaphorand post November 2, things are bound to get worse. When pregnant Texan women must drive hundreds of miles to end an unwanted pregnancy, when the sex-ed courses offered to Texan adolescents teach nothing except abstinencethis is repressive and horrific. So is the fact that two adults having consensual sex in Houston could be arrested, as Lawrence and his lover were. Yes, that poor couple’s glass was half emptyat least according to Observer-think, says Karen Olsson. She was co-editor in 2001, and says that if the magazine had covered the case, it would have reported it simply as “the men getting busted,” without follow-up about their lawsuit or the resulting landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing gay sex. “The Observer story is: You go out and talk to someone who’s been screwed over,” Olsson says. “You’re trying to figure out who’s getting screwed rather than thinking about things in a more complicated way.” Things sexual often do seem complicated, particularly when observed on the everyday level that policy wonks call “grass roots.” I remember how in the late 1990s in El Paso at my daughter’s public high schoola place filled with poor, Mexican kids, definitely no Montessorithere was an out gay boy who regularly attended class in lipstick and nail polish, and no one batted an eye, not even the jocks. How did that happen? Meanwhile, just across the border in Juarez amid an AIDS epidemic and constant, Observer-like plaints about the lack of prevention education, unschooled prostitutes were, quite spontaneously and with no Ford Foundation help whatsoever, teaching each other the following safe-sex technique for use with drunken Texan johns: Lube your hand, stick it near your crotch, form it in the shape of a vagina, insert penis, slide up and down. The customer thinks he had intercourse and goes away satisfied, leaving you with a wadof dollarsand no fear of HIV. continued on page 28 12/3/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17