Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Law Banning Sodomy

  1. I've actually been quietly waiting for this particular ruling. I'm impressed by the decision this court made. It will be interesting to see what the "ramifications" (if any) might be down the road with regards to the recognition of same-sex marriages.

    At any rate, this articale was found in the 06/26/2003 New York Times.
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    Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Law Banning Sodomy


    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


    WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court struck down a ban on gay sex Thursday, ruling that the law was an unconstitutional violation of privacy.

    The 6-3 ruling reverses course from a ruling 17 years ago that states could punish homosexuals for what such laws historically called deviant sex.

    Laws forbidding homosexual sex, once universal, now are rare. Those on the books are rarely enforced but underpin other kinds of discrimination, lawyers for two Texas men had argued to the court.

    The men "are entitled to respect for their private lives," Kennedy wrote.

    "The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime," he said.

    Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer agreed with Kennedy in full. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor agreed with the outcome of the case but not all of Kennedy's rationale.

    Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

    "The court has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda," Scalia wrote for the three. He took the unusual step of reading his dissent from the bench.

    "The court has taken sides in the culture war," Scalia said, adding that he has "nothing against homosexuals."

    The two men at the heart of the case, John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner, have retreated from public view. They were each fined $200 and spent a night in jail for the misdemeanor sex charge in 1998.

    The case began when a neighbor with a grudge faked a distress call to police, telling them that a man was "going crazy" in Lawrence's apartment. Police went to the apartment, pushed open the door and found the two men having anal sex.

    As recently as 1960, every state had an anti-sodomy law. In 37 states, the statutes have been repealed by lawmakers or blocked by state courts.

    Of the 13 states with sodomy laws, four -- Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri -- prohibit oral and anal sex between same-sex couples. The other nine ban consensual sodomy for everyone: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.

    Thursday's ruling apparently invalidates those laws as well.

    The Supreme Court was widely criticized 17 years ago when it upheld an antisodomy law similar to Texas'. The ruling became a rallying point for gay activists.

    Of the nine justices who ruled on the 1986 case, only three remain on the court. Rehnquist was in the majority in that case -- Bowers v. Hardwick -- as was O'Connor. Stevens dissented.

    A long list of legal and medical groups joined gay rights and human rights supporters in backing the Texas men. Many friend-of-the-court briefs argued that times have changed since 1986, and that the court should catch up.

    At the time of the court's earlier ruling, 24 states criminalized such behavior. States that have since repealed the laws include Georgia, where the 1986 case arose.

    Texas defended its sodomy law as in keeping with the state's interest in protecting marriage and child-rearing. Homosexual sodomy, the state argued in legal papers, "has nothing to do with marriage or conception or parenthood and it is not on a par with these sacred choices."

    The state had urged the court to draw a constitutional line "at the threshold of the marital bedroom."

    Although Texas itself did not make the argument, some of the state's supporters told the justices in friend-of-the-court filings that invalidating sodomy laws could take the court down the path of allowing same-sex marriage.

    The case is Lawrence v. Texas, 02-102.
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  2. 24 Comments

  3. by   eltrip
    I don't know how it might affect same-sex marriages, but I'm glad that the government has been removed from the bedrooms of consenting adults! Like I even wanted to know what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms. Ewwww!
  4. by   fergus51
    I've said it before and I'll say it again: If you are concerned about the type of sex someone else is having, you aren't getting enough yourself.
  5. by   passing thru
    'Scuse me while I go look up sodomy.
  6. by   pickledpepperRN
    Originally posted by eltrip
    I don't know how it might affect same-sex marriages, but I'm glad that the government has been removed from the bedrooms of consenting adults! Like I even wanted to know what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms. Ewwww!
    Me either.
    There is enough violent crime. Going after privacy is just plain wrong.
  7. by   kids
    I was watching for this one also.

    And it is about darn time.
    As far as I am concerned unless you are cooking meth, storing illegal weapons, building bombs, molesting children or committing rape it is no-ones freeking business what goes on in the sleeping areas of 2 (or more) consenting ADULTS.
  8. by   Ted
    As far as I am concerned unless you are cooking meth, storing illegal weapons, building bombs, molesting children or committing rape it is no-ones freeking business what goes on in the sleeping areas of 2 (or more) consenting ADULTS.
    Sorry! Ticked my funny bone! :chuckle
    _____________________________________

    Just a little aside, here!

    Just curious, folks! What's your favorite number?



























    My favorite "number" WAS illegal in the following states: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.
  9. by   Mkue
    it is no-ones freeking business what goes on in the sleeping areas of 2 (or more) consenting ADULTS
    I agree
  10. by   kids
    Originally posted by efiebke
    My favorite "number" WAS illegal in the following states: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.
    While I did used to love breaking the law, I do prefer not to have to worry about getting arrested when frolicking on vacation.
  11. by   Gomer
    Originally posted by efiebke
    My favorite "number" WAS illegal in the following states: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Gee, aren't those also the same states where it is not illegal to have a meaningful relationship with a sheep?
  12. by   SKM-NURSIEPOOH
    now lets see how long legal same sex marriages laws will take. personally, it doesn't matter to me whether people are str8, bi, gay, lesbian...if people decide to make a commitment with a partner...then it should be legalized with the same benefits that are recognized in str8 marriages today.

    canada's preparing to legalize same sex marriage (all will be welcome to marry there including foriegners)...that means a lot of american couples will be heading north for their commitment ceremonies. this country will have to recognize what most of the world has & that same sex marriages should be legal.

    glad you post this ted

    cheers!
    moe
  13. by   canoehead
    [. Homosexual sodomy, the state argued in legal papers, "has nothing to do with marriage or conception or parenthood and it is not on a par with these sacred choices."
    Well, they should see some of the couples making those "sacred choices" in our OB department. They would be begging for legal same sex marriages, sodomy or no.
  14. by   Ted
    My favorite "number" WAS illegal in the following states: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.
    Response:

    Gee, aren't those also the same states where it is not illegal to have a meaningful relationship with a sheep?


    (I'm practicing PG-13 rated impulse control here!)

    Bu -u -u -u -u -u -u t, anyways. . .

    Lamb chops anyone? YUM!!!!

    Ummmmm. . . . . back to the thread. . .


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