In these enlightened times, it’s easy to forget that for decades the anti-gay crowd vigorously and graphically argued that marriage equality was a bad idea because anal sex is gross. This argument reached its zenith—or its nadir—when New Hampshire Republican Rep. Nancy Elliott opined during a legislative speech that anal sex involves “taking the penis of one man and putting it in the rectum of another man and wiggling it around in excrement.” (Please note: This is inaccurate.)
Over the last few years, this argument has largely faded from the mainstream—but this week, South Dakota Republican Rep. Steve Hickey has mounted a delightful effort to revive the dying tactic. On Monday, Rep. Hickey sent a lengthy letter to the editor to the Argus Leader, South Dakota’s biggest newspaper, in response to a federal lawsuit against the state’s gay marriage ban. The paper has thus far declined to publish the missive on account of its length and suggestive language. But Rep. Hickey was undeterred: The representative instead took his message directly to the people, via his Facebook page.
The letter, titled “A One Way Alley for the Garbage Truck,” is as fantastically vulgar and obsessive as you would hope it to be. Hickey’s opening salvo alone is a veritable thunderclap of revealing scatological fixation:
Consider this an open letter to the medical and psychological communities in South Dakota. The subject is homosexuality, which is about to be a front-page topic for the next few years in our state. I’m asking the doctors who practice in our state, is the science really settled on this issue or is it more the case that you feel silenced and intimidated?
Certainly there are board-certified doctors in our state who will attest to what seems self-evident to so many: gay sex is not good for the body or mind. Pardon a crude comparison but regarding men with men, we are talking about a one-way alley meant only for the garbage truck to go down. Frankly, I’d question the judgment of doctor who says it’s all fine.
This plea for professional input, however, turns out to be something of a feint, for Rep. Hickey has in fact already made up his mind about anal sex—it’s just no good. That’s not to say, of course, that gay people are sinful or repulsive; rather, they should simply forego intimacy in favor of a single, celibate life:
This indeed is a matter of being on the wrong side of history considering that historically, homosexuality has been a notable marker of the downfall of past civilizations, not their rise. It’s not hate for a physician to speak up about something that is harmful to human health. It is not unloving to tell people you don’t have to have sex with and marry someone to love and be loved by them. As one who performs marriages and counsels couples as part of my professional life, marriage is the last thing I’d recommend to someone who simply wants to be loved and legitimized.
Having thus reduced all gay people to emotionally immature, needy little children, Rep. Hickey then tosses real children into the mix:
The South Dakota High School Activities Association is presently considering changing the rules to accommodate transgender kids. Forty-one percent of those who struggle with Gender Dysphoria attempt suicide, that's twenty-five times the rate of the general population—certainly tragic and urgent but not a word from the medical and psychological communities?
Actually, American medical and psychological communities have spoken out vehemently and unequivocally in favor of gay and trans rights, again and again and again and again and again and again and again. But these professionals’ unanimous endorsement of marriage equality and trans rights doesn’t convince Rep. Hickey, who knows in his heart that gender noncomforming stuff is just plain icky:
Letting boys play girl sports is not the starting place to fix the suicide problem or the very real daily struggle these students face dealing with something they have been handed in life. Society is broken and people have broken identities. Is it really best for us to break down the one remaining thing that has been working in society to try to fix the broken in our midst? And does it really even do that, or does it merely put them in more places exposing them to additional painful ostracization all the while transferring serious anxieties to other innocent and impressionable ones in those locker rooms? We need to have compassion but there are unintended consequences to consider too.
By the end of his cri de coeur, Rep. Hickey has strayed so far from his thesis that it’s hard to know which societal ills he ascribes to gay marriage and which to “letting boys play girl sports.” Either way, I’m afraid I have some bad news for Rep. Hickey: Straight Americans are having anal sex now, too. A lot of it. That’s not a bad thing—there’s nothing inherently unhealthy about anal sex—but it might force Rep. Hickey to re-evaluate his broader position on the topic. Plenty of loving, committed, monogamous straight couples partake in the pleasures of sodomy, not to be “legitimized” but simply because they enjoy it. It’s clear that Rep. Hickey has already done a lot of deep thinking about anal sex. Maybe if he does a little more, he’ll realize that marriage equality isn’t going to bring more “garbage truck[s]” down Americans’ “one-way alley[s].” Our alleys are getting enough traffic as it is.