Last edited: February 14, 2005

Gays Follow Court Case

Northern Virginia Journal, March 28, 2003
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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,” Kaufman said.

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 homosexual activists.

Cobb said enforcing Virginia’s sodomy law is not discrimination.

“Homosexuality is a choice,” she said. “To choose to engage in that behavior is a choice—discrimination doesn’t come into play.”

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.

“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 attended.

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 said.

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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