Last edited: December 05, 2004

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Welcomes Supreme Court Sodomy Decision—Calls Opinion a Major Advance for Individual Liberty

Task Force Has Worked to Repeal Sodomy Laws for Nearly 20 Years

Court Case Epitomizes the Sorry State of Legal Rights for Gay People in This Country

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, June 26, 2003

Sheri A. Lunn; 323-857-8751

Following is a statement by National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) Executive Director Matt Foreman:

“We welcome the decision of the United States Supreme Court striking down the Texas “Homosexual Conduct Law” that criminalized same-sex private, consensual sexual behavior. While this is a victory for individual liberties of all Americans, it is particularly welcome for gay people, who have been singled out for persecution and discrimination by these laws for decades. This decision marks the end of the government’s authority to knock down bedroom doors anywhere in this nation. We thank our friends and heroes at Lambda Legal for their extraordinary work on this case.

The decision is especially sweet for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Following the Supreme Court’s infamous 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick decision (which found that gay and lesbian people had no constitutionally-protected right to engage in intimate sexual relations), we launched our Privacy Project, the first national education and advocacy campaign to repeal consensual sodomy laws.

The Task Force has pursued this work with considerable success—in 1986 there were 24 sodomy laws on the books; before today’s ruling there were 13. After today’s ruling there will be none. Sustained mass movement organizing—by the Task Force and our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight activist allies in local, state, and national organizing in the legal and political arena, media, and the streets—has helped to create incredible change.

This opinion repudiates the court’s insulting 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick decision. We are hopeful that this decision will be the basis for expanding personal liberties for all Americans.

At the same time, however, this court case epitomizes the sorry state of legal rights for gay people in this country. In 2003, it’s appalling that states would still argue that there’s nothing wrong with the police kicking down the bedroom doors of a gay or lesbian couple and arresting them for having intimate relations with the person they love.”

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, along with other organizations, filed an Amicus brief with the court in the Lawrence v. Texas case. You can download the brief at

Also in the “sodomy” issues section of the Task Force Web site referenced above you can download a PDF of the NGLTF sodomy law map which highlights sodomy laws as they stood before today’s Supreme Court ruling. As of today’s ruling, there would be no shaded states on that map.

Founded in 1973, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is the oldest national organization working to eliminate prejudice, violence and injustice against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people at the local, state and national level. The Task Force trains activists and leaders and organizes broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-gay referenda and advance pro-GLBT legislation. The Task Force Policy Institute, the community’s premiere think tank, researches and reports on critical policy issues. As part of a broader social justice movement for freedom, justice and equality, the Task Force is creating a world that respects and celebrates the diversity of human expression and identity where all people may fully participate in society.

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