Last edited: February 22, 2005

Ruling Invalidates State Law Against ‘Unnatural Sex’

The Clarion-Ledger, June 26, 2003
Box 40, Jackson, MS 39205
Fax: 601-961-7211

By Wilson Boyd,

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling that strikes down a Texas law banning homosexual sodomy also invalidates Mississippi’s law prohibiting “unnatural sex.”

The decision comes as a welcome surprise to Jody Renaldo, executive director of Equality Mississippi.

“I thought the Supreme Court would strike down Texas’ law, but not anyone else’s,” Renaldo said.

Equality Mississippi submitted a “friend of the court” brief advocating the elimination of all sodomy laws.

“We had a small part in this,” Renaldo said.

But the Rev. Donald Wildmon of the Tupelo-based American Family Association said the Supreme Court overstepped its authority.

“The Supreme Court has usurped the other two branches,” Wildmon said.

The Supreme Court has joined the homosexual lobby, Wildmon said. “What you’re seeing is judicial exploitation and the further denigration of Western society,” Wildmon said.

The majority opinion of the 6-3 decision said the Texas law was an unconstitutional violation of privacy.

Of the 13 states with sodomy laws, four—Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri—prohibit oral and anal sex between same-sex couples. The other nine ban consensual sodomy for everyone: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.

Today’s ruling apparently invalidates those laws as well.

John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner, plaintiffs in the case before the high court, “are entitled to respect for their private lives,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer joined Kennedy’s opinion. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor agreed with the outcome, but not all of Kennedy’s reasoning.

The decision overturned a 1986 case, Bowers v. Hardwick.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

Scalia took the unusual step of reading his dissent, which represented the opinions of the other two justices as well, from the bench.

“The court has taken sides in the culture war,” Scalia said, adding that he has “nothing against homosexuals.”

The case is Lawrence v. Texas, 02-102.

  • The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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