React to Sodomy Ruling
Morning News, June 27, 2003
Box 655237, Dallas, TX 75265
Fax: 972-263-0456, Email: email@example.com
By Katie Menzer, The Dallas Morning News
DALLAS (KRT)—For years, Woody
Wood told people he left the U.S. Air Force because he wanted a career as a
commercial airline pilot. He was too ashamed to tell the truth—he was forced
out because he is gay.
“When it happened, I wanted to put a gun to my head,”
said Wood, who served as a fighter pilot from 1957 to 1969 before resigning
after Air Force officials discovered he was gay. “It was like the end of my
world. I let it destroy me.”
Now, more than three decades later, Wood has a renewed
hope for a society that grounded his ambition for a lifelong career protecting
his country. The 68-year-old Dallas resident said he believes Thursday’s
Supreme Court decision will open doors of opportunity for many other gays and
“It’s a new day. It’s really exciting,” said
Wood, talking with friends about the court’s landmark on Thursday. “This
might open the dam for a lot of things to happen.”
The 6-3 majority opinion killed Texas’ Homosexual
Conduct Law, which bans gay couples from engaging in sexual acts that are
legal for heterosexual couples. It also strikes down sodomy laws in 12 other
Attorneys arguing against Texas’ law said it prevents
gays from qualifying for jobs that involve security clearances and denies them
legal benefits—including child custodies and adoptions—that depend on
Wood said such issues are no longer relevant for
him—he’s retired. But the ruling will have a profound effect on his life,
“I’ll have a bigger spring in my step and a little
more pride,” he said.
Not everyone agrees with the court’s decision, though.
Kelly Shackelford of Free Market Foundation, a Plano, Texas-based conservative
policy group, said the nation is headed down the wrong path.
“Everybody knew they were going to strike it down, but
we still think it’s a wrong decision,” the organization’s leader said.
“You can read the Constitution as much as you want to, but you’re not
going to find a right to engage in homosexual activity in the Constitution.”
For Dallas City Council member Ed Oakley—who is
gay—the court has righted a wrong that should never have been added to state
“I think it’s a decision that’s long overdue,”
Oakley said. “I’m in public office, and there is a law on the books that
makes me a criminal just because of my private life. It’s a freedom that
should never have been legislated.”
The Rev. Michael Piazza of Dallas’ Cathedral of
Hope—the world’s largest liberal Christian church with a predominantly
lesbian, gay and transgender outreach—has been with his partner for 23
years. But when the couple decided to adopt a child 10 years ago, Piazza was
forced to adopt her as a single parent.
“Although we’ve been together for 23 years, the law
does not recognize that,” Piazza said.
He believes laws like that will soon change in light of
“This is the beginning of the court recognizing that
all taxpayers should be treated equally under the government,” he said.
For Colleyville, Texas, resident Randy Gregory, who is
raising a child with his partner Kevin Boynton, the ruling won’t have much
effect on his day-to-day existence. But he sees the court’s decision as an
important, symbolic victory for the gay community.
“A lot of it is just mental, although there was always
a threat in the background that something could happen just knowing that
we’re considered less than other people,” the 50-year-old land surveyor
By removing the law, the courts have removed a powerful
weapon from the hands of anti-gay groups and bigots, said Roger Wedell,
president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.
“This won’t change people’s hearts and minds, but
it will change the law,” he said.
When Wood left the Air Force after serving in the Vietnam
conflict, he earned his master’s of business administration and joined the
corporate world as a management consultant. He said he often had to lie about
his sexual orientation to employers to get or keep jobs or to protect his
friends and family from bigotry.
He did not speak of the details of his Air Force
discharge for more than two decades, although he dreamed—and still
“Living a lie is so hideous,” Wood said. “ . In my
dreams, I still have my hand on the stick and the throttle.”
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