Last edited: February 06, 2005

Protect Privacy of Bedroom

Kansas City Star, December 9, 2002
1729 Grand Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64108
Fax: 816-234-4926

The U.S. Supreme Court should take the opportunity it has given itself to remove some of the most constitutionally indefensible laws on the books in 13 states, including Missouri and Kansas.

These laws say, in effect, that what people do in their own bedrooms is the government’s business. The laws in Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma criminalize "deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex." Laws in Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Utah and Virginia criminalize certain sexual practices for everyone.

Sexual behavior in private between consenting adults is none of the government’s business. Nor does the government have an effective or equitable way to enforce such laws.

So the Supreme Court should overturn its unfortunate 1986 decision in which a 5-4 majority ruled that gay men and lesbian women have no constitutional protection against discriminatory sexual legislation. One of the five justices in the majority has since said he regrets his vote. The Georgia law in the case has since been repealed.

Now the Supreme Court has agreed to review a Texas law being challenged by two men arrested in Houston in 1998. Sheriff’s officers had been called to a home to investigate a neighbor’s report of a "weapons disturbance."

The report was phony and the person who submitted it was convicted of filing a false report. But authorities sent to the house arrested two men having sex. They were convicted but appealed, saying Texas law violates their federal constitutional protections to equal protection and privacy.

Privacy is one of the central issues. Although gays and lesbians have an obvious interest in this case, the case is ultimately about whether Americans are free even in their own homes to do things that should be none of the government’s business.

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