Follow Court Case
Virginia Journal, March 28, 2003
6408 Edsall Road, Alexandria, VA 22312
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By Matt Young, Journal staff writer
It’s not every day that Linda Kaufman camps out in
front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In fact, Tuesday was the only time the 52-year-old
Arlington resident did.
For her, it was personal.
As a lesbian, she wanted to make sure she had a seat
during oral arguments Wednesday on a Texas sodomy law that, if struck down,
could decriminalize sodomy in states across America that prohibit
it—including Virginia, which bans sodomy for both straight and gay couples.
In the Texas case, Lawrence and Garner v. Texas, Supreme
Court justices are examining a state law that criminalizes homosexual sodomy.
They could uphold the law. But if they find it is unconstitutional, they could
effectively strike down anti-sodomy laws everywhere, said Victoria Cobb,
legislative affairs director for The Family Foundation of Virginia, which
opposes homosexual unions.
However, they still might support state laws that
criminalize sodomy, but not specifically for homosexuals, even if they strike
down the Texas law. The decision, expected in June, hinges upon what the
justices consider to be fundamental liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.
It’s a decision that gay-rights supporters in Virginia,
like Kaufman, are eagerly awaiting.
While advocates on both sides of the issue agree that
anti-sodomy laws rarely are enforced, Kaufman said the fact that sodomy is
illegal in Virginia kept her from adopting a son here four years ago.
Her adoption process “just ground to a halt because
Virginia didn’t want to consider homosexual applicants for adoption,”
Cobb agreed that gays often are denied adoptions
partially because they are seen as engaging in criminal activity. Cobb’s
group supports marriages only between men and women and mostly is at odds with
Cobb said enforcing Virginia’s sodomy law is not
“Homosexuality is a choice,” she said. “To choose
to engage in that behavior is a choice—discrimination doesn’t come into
After a prolonged legal battle, Kaufman said recently she
was given the go-ahead for the adoption and met a 14-year-old boy Saturday
whom she may adopt.
But Kaufman said she’s still wary of Virginia’s
“Sodomy law is used all the time against gays and
lesbians,” she said. “We’re presumed criminals.”
Kharma Amos, interim pastor at the Metropolitan Community
Church of Northern Virginia, said she’d like to see Virginia’s sodomy law
die. The church serves gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered parishioners
and their families.
“I really don’t think it’s the purview of the
courts to be regulating certain types of behavior of adults in their own
homes,” Amos said.
Furthermore, she said anti-sodomy is “probably the
oldest existing law and the most cited that rears its ugly head in any
discussion about equality for gays and lesbians.”
Stephen Nutt, 42, of Arlington, attended a conference in
that county Wednesday sponsored by Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund,
which was essentially a rally against sodomy laws. In the Texas case, a Lambda
Legal attorney is trying to convince the justices to strike down sodomy laws
everywhere in defending a gay couple accused of breaking the law by having
sex. Kaufman served as a speaker at the conference and more than 50 people
If the Supreme Court overturns Texas’ sodomy law, Nutt
said there is a strong chance Virginia will strike down its own law.
“I think Virginia would see [the law] as a losing
proposition,” Nutt said.
Cobb said she hopes sodomy will not be legalized.
“This is a matter of public health and morality,” she
Sodomy is linked with higher rates of AIDS and other
sexually transmitted diseases, she said. In addition, marriage between a man
and woman is the “bedrock of society,” she said. Only that can promote a
stable family and create life, she said.
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