Last edited: January 03, 2005

The Episcopal Church, USA, Joins Pro-Sodomy Brief

Action Contradicts Stance of Worldwide Anglican Conference

Concerned Women for America, March 12, 2003
1015 Fifteenth St. N.W., Suite 1100, Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: (202) 488-7000, Fax: (202) 488-0806

By Al Dobras

The Episcopal Church, USA, has joined with a number of homosexual advocacy groups to seek repeal of the state of Texas’s anti-sodomy statute in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold III, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, filed an amici (friend of the court) brief on behalf of a Texas man accused of violating the state’s statute prohibiting homosexual conduct, the Episcopal News Service reported March 7. The matter has become a cause celebre among homosexual activists, who have appealed his conviction to the United States Supreme Court. The court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas is expected this summer.

The EC, USA, joined over 100 pro-homosexual pressure groups that have filed briefs in support of overturning the Texas statute, including about 30 “religious” organizations. The great majority among the latter group, however, comprises only caucuses within their respective denominations, and the EC, USA, finds itself essentially alone in claiming representation for its broader membership. A complete list of organizations filing amici briefs can be found at the website for Lambda Legal. Concerned Women for America’s amicus brief was authored by Chief Counsel Jan LaRue.

The amici brief filed on behalf of the liberal “religious” organizations concluded that “the amici are unanimous in the belief that criminalizing the private behavior of a particular minority, as Texas’ Homosexual Conduct law does, intrudes upon individual liberty and violates the rights of gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals.”

Lawrence, the case before the court refers to a September 1998 incident during which two men were arrested for engaging in homosexual conduct. In response to the court challenge, Texas stated the facts in the case as follows:

A citizen informed Harris County sheriff’s deputies that an armed man was “going crazy” in the apartment of petitioner Lawrence. Pet. App. 129a. The investigating officers entered the apartment and observed the petitioners engaged in anal sexual intercourse. They were then charged by complaint in a Harris County justice court with the commission of the Class C misdemeanor offense of engaging in homosexual conduct, an offense defined by TEX. PENAL CODE § 21.06(a) (Vernon 1994), as follows: “A person commits an offense if he engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex.” A Class C misdemeanor is punishable only by a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars.

It is understandable why so many homosexual groups would take an active interest in this case. If the Supreme Court rules that the Texas law is unconstitutional, the effect would be to perhaps invalidate sodomy laws throughout the United States and give credibility to this behavior, which opponents consider perverse and corrupting to society. However, why the Episcopal Church, USA, would go out on a limb and lend its support to the case is less clear.

First, the August 5, 1998, World Anglican Conference in Lambeth, England, passed a resolution—by an overwhelming vote of 526 to 70 (with 45 abstentions)—that rejected homosexual practice as “incompatible with Scripture,” and could not “advise the legitimizing or blessing of same-sex unions, nor the ordination of those involved in such unions.”

Second, it is questionable that Bishop Griswold has the authority to speak for the entire EC, USA, membership to endorse the repeal of sodomy laws, since governance of the church is directed by the general convention, which, up to this time, has not spoken out on this specific issue. Individual dioceses in the church are widely and hopelessly divided on the issue of homosexual affirmation.

Members of the EC, USA, may seek clarification on this issue by contacting the office of the Presiding Bishop, The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, at or by telephone: 212-716-6276.

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