Last edited: February 22, 2005

Gay Activists Hail Supreme Court’s Sodomy Ruling

Daily Oklahoman, June 26, 2003
P. O. Box 25125, Oklahoma City, OK 73125
Fax: 405-475-3971

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 wrote.

“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 American.”

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