Reviews on Court Ruling
County Daily Times, June 29, 2003
500 Mildred Avenue, Primos, PA 19018
By Kristin Smith, email@example.com
Local gay-rights and civil-liberties groups are claiming
victory in Thursday’s Supreme Court decision overturning the laws against
Those opposed to the ruling see it as a sign of the
nation’s moral decline.
Many homosexual advocacy groups across the nation are
comparing the effects of this ruling to the 1954 landmark civil rights
decision Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., that ended school
Locally, those in favor of the ruling simply say that
it’s long overdue.
“What goes on behind closed doors between two loving
people, whether they’re male or female, as long as they’re not hurting
anybody, is OK,” said James, who asked that his last name not be used.
James, who is in a monogamous relationship, is a 30-year-old gay man living in
“How can you put a barrier on loving someone?” he
“This is basically what we as a whole, sexual
minorities, have been waiting for. Hopefully, this can possibly open up more
legalization for gays and lesbians.”
William Devlin, founder of Philadelphia-based Urban
Family Council, a faith-based family advocacy organization, disagrees.
Calling the ruling “a case of the inmates running the
asylum,” Devlin said it’s “a bad decision for America, a bad decision
for children and a bad decision for families.”
“It’s bad public policy, it’s bad social policy and
it’s also against nature,” Devlin continued.
The case, Lawrence and Garner
v. Texas challenged and overturned by a vote of 6-3, a law making
sodomy between two consenting adults illegal. Thursday’s Supreme Court
decision found the law unconstitutional and also struck down all remaining
sodomy laws on the books—four states had laws banning same-sex sodomy while
nine banned it for couples, regardless of gender.
The issue of the right to privacy in the bedroom has been
hotly debated throughout the country, in part spearheaded by Sen. Rick
Santorum’s (R-PA) comments on the case to The Associated Press in an
interview April 21.
Santorum, speaking of the Lawrence case, compared
the legalization of consensual homosexual sex to the legalization of incest,
polygamy, bigamy and adultery.
While a national news blitz followed these remarks,
Santorum’s approval rating stayed at 55 percent among Pennsylvania voters,
about the same as it was before his comments, according to a May 22 poll
conducted by Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University.
That same poll also found that 58 percent of respondents
believed homosexual sex is morally wrong but 45 percent felt it should not be
Santorum could not be reached for comment but issued a
statement disagreeing with the court’s decision and stating his belief that
the court overstepped its boundaries. “This (decision) effectively decrees
the end of all moral legislation,” Santorum wrote.
Rev. Karla Fleshman believes the Supreme Court’s ruling
shows that human law is finally catching up with God’s law.
“My initial reaction (to the decision) is that three of
the six (justices) figured out what God already knows,” she said. “That
we’re free, we’re equal and our relationships have the same integrity that
Fleshman is minister of Imago Dei Metropolitan Church in
Media, which serves about 120 Christian gay, bisexual and transgender people
in the community.
“With a few pen strokes, we’ve gone from being seen
as criminals in this country to being seen a little more like equal
citizens,” she said.
The decision is also a victory for the families and
friends of gays, said Fleshman. Anyone prosecuted under the law banning gay
sex was at risk for losing their children or job because of a criminal
conviction. That risk is now gone, she noted.
Local civil-liberties groups are also hailing the
court’s decision, noting the broader implications of privacy issues.
“We think it’s a fantastic decision that represents a
sweeping reaffirmation of the right of privacy,” said David DiSabatino,
executive director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the ACLU.
“Obviously, it’s a victory for gay and lesbian
people, but it’s also a victory for anyone who wishes to be left alone in
their most intimate decisions and actions.”
James of Norwood believes the decision is just one more
step towards homosexuals gaining equality and recognition in society as a
“We are your doctors, your police and fire protection,
state representatives, your waiters. We’re out there and I think this is
just coming to the forefront now. We’re actually now becoming visible,” he
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