Court Hears Landmark Gay Sex Case This Week
Newscenter, March 23, 2003
By Paul Johnson
D.C.—The Supreme Court will be asked Wednesday to strike down laws
against gay sex. The Court has agreed to hear arguments in the case of
two Texas men who were charged in 1998 for having sex in the home of one of
deputies, responding to a false report of an armed intruder, entered John
Lawrence’s Houston apartment and found Lawrence and Tyrone Garner having
were arrested and jailed overnight. The men pleaded no contest to the charges
and paid a $200 fine.
Texas sodomy law under which they were charged bans oral and anal sex between
consenting adults of the same sex. It does not apply to heterosexual couples.
is a tremendously important case for gay people and for everyone who believes
in basic freedoms,” says Ruth Harlow, Legal Director, Lambda Legal.
gay rights group is representing Lawrence and Garner before the high court.
that criminalize oral and anal sex by consenting gay couples are an affront to
equality, invade the most private sphere of adult life, and harm gay people in
many ways,” said Harlow.
will argue that the arrest of Lawrence and Garner violated their
Constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment which guarantees equal
protection. The organization will also tell the court that the Texas law
constitutes an invasion of privacy
state of Texas is expected to argue that society has the right to declare
certain behavior immoral and that courts have long recognized legal
differences between heterosexuals and gays in areas such as marriage law.
American Civil Liberties Union, one of a number of groups which have filed
‘friend of the court briefs’ supporting Lambda Legal said: “Laws like
these are repellent to the most basic principles of freedom established in the
U.S. Constitution. We hope the Justices use this case to strike them down.”
other states—Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas—plus Puerto Rico have laws
similar to the Texas statute, targeting only gays.
nine states—Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina,
South Carolina, Utah and Virginia—have sodomy laws that apply to all adults,
gay or straight.
the court strikes down the Texas law the ruling would apply to other states as
1986, the Supreme Court declared there was no fundamental constitutional right
to homosexual sodomy in a Georgia case known as Bowers vs. Hardwick. In a 5-4
decision the court rejected the argument that the right to privacy shielded
adult gays from government interference in their sex lives.
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