Suit Challenges Alabama Sexual Misconduct Law
Associated Press, May 15, 2002
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—A lawsuit filed on behalf of two
gay men and two lesbians challenges the state’s sexual misconduct law as
Those bringing the suit were not named but identified as a gay law student
in Tuscaloosa, a gay Birmingham man, a lesbian professor at the University of
Alabama and a lesbian in a child-custody case. Their attorney, David Gespass
of Birmingham, filed suit in federal court Tuesday against Attorney General
Bill Pryor as the state official charged with upholding the sodomy law.
The plaintiffs allege that the law violates equal protection and free
expression rights, among others.
Pryor said he will oppose the lawsuit.
"In 1986, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled there is no
constitutional right to engage in homosexual sodomy. That is the law of this
land. I will therefore defend Alabama law aggressively," Pryor said.
The crime known in many states as sodomy is called sexual misconduct in
Alabama. It is a misdemeanor banning acts of oral or anal sex between adults
not married to each other.
Since apartment leases state that the tenant agree to abide by all laws,
the sodomy statute prevents the plaintiffs from signing a lease, the suit
The suit said the challenged statute doesn’t make express reference to
lesbians, gay men or homosexuality, but the Alabama Supreme Court has twice
interpreted the law to mean that the "lifestyle" and homosexual
conduct are "illegal" under the statute.
The suit makes reference to Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s
statement earlier this year that homosexual conduct is an "inherent
evil." Moore described homosexuality as "abhorrent, immoral,
detestable" in a lengthy separate opinion he wrote as he joined a
unanimous Alabama Supreme Court ruling denying a lesbian mother custody of her
The suit says Alabama has "fostered a statewide atmosphere in which
anti-gay discrimination and violence can and does flourish, and has endorsed
the notion that lesbians and gay men are second-class citizens."
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