Alabama Sex Law Challenged
May 16, 2002
Attorneys on behalf of two lesbians and two gay men on Monday filed a
complaint in Montgomery, Ala., federal district court challenging the
constitutionality of the state’s deviate sexual practices law, which
criminalizes gay sex.
The four plaintiffs are remaining anonymous to protect their privacy. The
complaint, authored by attorneys James Garland and David Gespass, charges that
Alabama’s deviate sexual practices law violates the plaintiffs’ rights of
free expression and association and the equal protection guarantees of the
Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as liberties protected
by the Alabama constitution.
Since the 1970s, Alabama law has legalized all penile-vaginal sex, even
between unmarried people, and has legalized oral and anal sex between any two
people who are married to each other, according to Garland. The current law
prohibiting "deviate sexual practices" criminalizes any oral or anal
sex between unmarried persons, even if that sex is consensual.
Gespass told The Advocate that he had discussed challenging the law with
his clients for years but that it was the recent remarks by Alabama chief
justice Roy Moore, who called homosexuality "an inherent evil" in a
March court ruling denying a lesbian mother custody of her children, that
finally spurred them to action. "[Moore’s] remarks were completely
inappropriate," said Gespass. "It kind of pushed us over the
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