Last edited: January 02, 2005

Texas Governor Will Abide by Supreme Court Ruling

Dallas Morning News, June 26, 2003
Box 655237, Dallas, TX 75265
Fax: 972-263-0456, Email:

By Matt Stiles, The Dallas Morning News

KRT—Seven months after calling the state’s ban on gay sex “appropriate,” Gov. Rick Perry plans to abide by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the state law, a spokesman said Thursday.

The assertion by Perry’s office comes weeks after the Legislature reasserted its interest in overseeing social behavior, prohibiting legal recognition of same-sex unions.

“The Supreme Court has issued its ruling in this case, and the state of Texas will abide by that decision,” said Perry spokesman Gene Acuna, who declined to comment on the governor’s personal opinion of the ruling overturning the Texas sodomy law.

Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, said some lawmakers probably would study the decision to look for ways to rewrite the law—Section 21.06 of the penal code—to make it constitutional.

“I suspect that we’ll have a study group of legislators that will sit down and see if something can be done about this,” said Chisum, the House author of just-passed legislation governing civil unions, called the Defense of Marriage Act.

But some observers of the ruling, from a 1998 case in which two Houston-area men were arrested and later fined for engaging in sex inside a home, said the court left lawmakers no room to maneuver.

“Matters of private consensual behavior.(are) outside the bounds of state legislation. The court could not have been more clear about that,” said Will Harrell, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

Harrell said he believed that the decision might have broader implications on gay and lesbian rights, such as the right to same-sex marriage or civil unions.

Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, said he believed the Defense of Marriage Act would not be affected.

“That bill simply declared as public policy in the state of Texas that marriage should be between one man and one woman,” said Wentworth, the Senate sponsor of the marriage act.

Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, applauded the court’s decision, saying it was long overdue.

“We must stop treating gays and lesbians as second-class citizens in Texas,” he said in a prepared statement.

Reacting to the court’s decision in December to hear the case, Perry told the Associated Press, “I think our law is appropriate that we have on the books.”

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