When viewers tune into ABC tonight, they’ll be greeted with new episodes of Shonda Rhimes’ hit show “Scandal” and one for which she serves as executive producer, “How to Get Away With Murder.” Chances are, they’ll also be greeted with steamy sex scenes, some of which star same-sex lovers. Rhimes responded sharply to one viewer’s criticism on Twitter:

She’s right, of course. The scenes don’t feature morally bankrupt aliens out to corrupt America’s innocent youth. They’re characters with compelling storylines and sexual desires, innately human sexual desires that happen to be really fun to watch. But it’s also true that when it comes to the show’s gay characters, those desires have been criminalized for centuries. Rhimes isn’t just making critically acclaimed television that just so happens to feature love “scenes with people in them.” She’s arguably making the most daring network television featuring gay characters ever, and that deserves to be named for what it is.

Let’s just put this out there: Gay sex is gay sex. Gay sex is hot. Gay sex is not straight sex. While most sex among straight adults isn’t a legal matter, gay sex is different. It’s still inherently political. As far back as 1779, Thomas Jefferson wrote a law in Virginia for which the penalty for sodomy between two men was castration. In 1948, Congress enacted the District of Columbia’s first law against sodomy, posing as punishment 10 years in prison, a $1,000 fine and mandatory psychiatric treatment. As recently as 1997, 21 states in America had enforceable sodomy laws, which made it a crime to have gay sex. Even though the Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that sodomy laws amounted to an “unconstitutional invasion of privacy,” and even though district attorneys have declared such laws to be virtually unenforceable, 12 states – including Michigan, Mississippi and Texas – still have them on the books. In recent years, as many as a dozen men were arrested by the East Baton Rogue sheriff’s office for violating Louisiana’s statute against “unnatural carnal copulation.

Rhimes’ shows are almost singlehandedly normalizing gay sex in American culture. And she’s doing it on ABC guaranteeing that more people are watching than ever. There have certainly been some TV forays into gay sex in recent years. “Noah’s Arc” showed what love between black men could look like. Illene Chaiken’s “The L Word” had lots and lots of hot and sweaty gay sex (Shane + Carmen 4Ever!), but you still had to look to find it. Even on CBS’ “The Good Wife,” the gun-toting, boots-wearing, bisexual investigator Kalinda Sharma has managed to woo damn near half of Chicago’s legal establishment but there isn’t much on-air gay sex.

What Shonda Rhimes is doing is writing great gay sex scenes. Why not name them?