Last edited: December 05, 2004

American Gays Hail Sodomy Ruling, Look to Marriage

Reuters, June 26, 2003

By Mark Egan

NEW YORK—Gays across America welcomed a Supreme Court decision on Thursday that legalized anal and oral sex in their homes, and experts said the ruling could pave the way for eventually legalizing gay marriage.

The ruling was lauded from New York’s Greenwich Village to San Francisco’s Castro district. Conservative groups denounced it as a defeat for public morality.

Marty Kantougay, a gay man in New York, called it, “the best thing that’s ever happened, even better than sliced white bread.”

Boston gay activist Josh Friedes, said, “Gays and lesbians are no longer a disfavored class of people.” West Hollywood’s gay Mayor Jeffrey Prang called the ruling a key step, “in the continuing struggle for civil rights for all.”

By a 6-3 vote, the nation’s highest court declared that a Texas law was an unwarranted government intrusion into a person’s privacy. The court also took the rare step of overturning its 1986 ruling that upheld a Georgia law that meant gays had no constitutional right to engage in sodomy in private.

The 30-year-old Texas “homosexual conduct” law makes it a crime for same-sex couples to engage in oral and anal sex, even if it is consensual and occurs in the privacy of a home.

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay Democrat, told reporters in Washington, “This is a great day for liberty. I think this is a clear evidence ... America isn’t really homophobic. It just used to think it was supposed to be.”

In San Francisco’s mostly gay Castro neighborhood, one gay man, Ken Emery, said, “It is about damn time.”

“These laws have been used to bash us for far too long,” he said. And while the decision would have no practical impact in San Francisco, he said, “it still has a huge bearing on advancing gay rights.”

But not everybody was impressed.

Alan Goldman, an elderly New York man donning a Panama hat, said, “I don’t believe in sodomy.”

“It’s the worst disgrace in the history of mankind,” he said, urging gays to, “resist from all Sodom activities.”

The Traditional Values Coalition, linking gay sex with AIDS, said the court had, “elevated anal sex over the right of a state to protect its citizens from a serious public health crisis.”

While the court’s ruling explicitly sidestepped the issue of gay marriage, Fordham University law school Professor Russell Robinson said the ruling would be a “powerful cornerstone for future decisions on gay issues.”

“The court did not close the door to questions like whether gays have the right to marry,” Robinson said.

California State Assemblyman Mark Leno, a San Francisco Democrat representing an active gay community, also saw broader implications from the ruling.

“My hope is that in the very near future the high court will join the Vermont State Supreme Court and a growing list of nations that recognize that any discrimination against same-sex couples is unconstitutional,” Leno said.

Same-sex civil unions are legal in Vermont and, this month, Canada legalized gay marriage.

The conservative lobby group Family Research Council also said the issue of gay marriage would now be raised.

“The radical homosexual lobby will seek to apply the logic, extending a blanket privacy protection over one’s choice of sexual partner to one’s choice of marital partner as well, regardless of sex,” the group said in a statement.

In Florida, one of the 13 states whose sodomy laws are now invalidated, Stratton Pollitzer of the gay and lesbian group Equality Florida said, “We are all celebrating.”

But several speakers from activists groups who spoke at a Miami news conference warned that with two potential openings on the Supreme Court looming, gays should be alert for conservative judges who might try to reverse the ruling.

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