Episcopal Church, USA, Joins Pro-Sodomy Brief
Action Contradicts Stance of Worldwide Anglican
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 email@example.com
or by telephone: 212-716-6276.
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