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
Court Case Epitomizes the Sorry State of Legal Rights
for Gay People in This Country
Gay and Lesbian Task Force, June 26, 2003
Sheri A. Lunn
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 http://www.ngltf.org/issues/issue.cfm?issueID=11.
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
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