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
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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