Gays Celebrate, Others Predict ‘Terrible Consequences’
Associated Press, June 26,
SAN FRANCISCO—Gay men and
lesbians across the nation reacted with relief and triumph today after the
Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that bans gay sex acts even in private.
A conservative group said the ruling would allow “harmful sexual conduct.”
Gay-rights activists, who regarded the anti-sodomy
statute challenge as one of their most important legal cases in decades, said
the high court’s ruling would go far toward guaranteeing equal rights for
“This is historic,” said Kate Kendall, executive
director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “There is not a gay
person in this country who has not lived their entire life under the yoke of
these laws existing somewhere.”
The ruling disappointed Christian legal groups that had
written briefs urging the justices to uphold the Texas law and similar
statutes in a dozen other states.
“Apparently they have gone the whole route and fully
legitimized sodomy in America,” said Scott Lively, director of the Pro
Family Law Center. “This is going to have terrible consequences for our
nation. In essence, the court has said that states cannot regulate harmful
The 6-3 decision came in a case brought by two
Houston-area men who in 1998 were charged with breaking Texas’ Homosexual
Conduct Law. They were jailed overnight and ordered to pay $200 fines after
police, responding to a false armed intruder complaint, discovered them having
sex in their bedroom.
Though seldom enforced by police, the Texas law and
similar provisions in a dozen other states are sometimes invoked by judges to
deny homosexuals legal custody of their children, equal employment guarantees
and other civil rights.
“It absolutely signals an entirely changed
landscape,” Kendall said. “It’s impossible to be considered a full and
equal citizen if you’re a criminal in 13 states.” She added that the
decision marked “a cultural change as much as a legal change.”
That the high court’s ruling came in June, the month
traditionally reserved for gay pride celebrations across the country, made the
victory all the more sweet, advocates said.
“Given previous rulings, it’s extraordinary and
it’s inspiring that the court ruled that gays and lesbians be treated the
same as their straight brothers and sisters, no better and no worse,” said
Charles Francis, founder of the Republican Unity Coalition, a gay-straight
organization that counts former President Gerald Ford and former Sen. Alan
Simpson as honorary members. “Today’s ruling is not a victory for gays
nearly so much as a victory for the four words carved in stone on the court
house: Equal Justice Under Law.”
Advocacy groups from Alaska to Florida planned
celebrations later in the day. A 5 p.m. rally is planned in Houston on the
steps of City Hall., 901 Bagby.
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