Gay Activists Hail Supreme Court’s Sodomy Ruling
Oklahoman, June 26, 2003
P. O. Box 25125, Oklahoma City, OK 73125
By The Associated Press/Daily Oklahoman
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down a ban
on gay sex will reduce discrimination against same-sex couples but will not
stop prejudice against homosexuals, Oklahoma gay activists said Thursday.
“Prejudice is almost impossible to eliminate,” said
Bill Rogers, past president of the Cimarron Alliance, a gay and lesbian group
based in Oklahoma City.
Gay rights groups praised the high court’s ruling that
struck down an anti-sodomy law in Texas that banned oral and anal sex between
same-sex couples. Oklahoma is among 12 other states that have similar laws.
“It ushers in a whole new era of tolerance and
acceptance,” said Keith Smith, co-chairman of the Stonewall Democrats of
Central Oklahoma, the gay and lesbian caucus of the Democratic Party.
The decision was criticized by state Rep. Bill Graves,
R-Oklahoma City, a gay rights opponent who said the ruling “makes a mockery
of morality and constitutional law.”
U.S. Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla., said he disagrees with
the decision and believes states and local communities should be able to
choose their own standards.
“Public health and morality have a place in our
society,” Sullivan said.
Graves said Oklahoma’s anti-sodomy law refers to the
practice as “the detestable and abominable crime against nature.”
“The decision elevates sodomy, which has always been
viewed as a sexual perversion, to the status of a constitutional right,”
Graves said. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of two men
arrested after police walked in on them having sex.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that the men “are
entitled to respect for their private lives.”
“The state cannot demean their existence or control
their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime,” Kennedy
“This is a wonderful decision that could open up a lot
of doors,” said Joann Bell, executive director of the American Civil
Liberties Union of Oklahoma.
Bell said the high court’s ruling on a sodomy law in
Texas found that such statutes are an unconstitutional violation of privacy.
“What people do in privacy is worthy of the greatest
constitutional protection,” said attorney Rex Friend.
Rogers said anti-sodomy laws have been used in the past
to justify entrapment of gays by law enforcement authorities and lack of
protection from hate crimes.
“All Americans have to be treated equally,” Rogers
said. “We’re all entitled to equal treatment under the law.”
“This is a monumental decision,” Smith said.
“It’s a great day to be an American. It’s an even better day to be a gay
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