Arkansas Sodomy Law Struck Down
PlanetOut.com Network, March 26, 2001
By Matt Alsdorf
SUMMARY: If oral and anal intercourse are legal for opposite-sex
couples, they have to be legal for gay couples, too, according to an Arkansas
The Arkansas law that banned consensual same-gender sex was thrown out
Friday by a judge who said it was unconstitutional for the state to make
certain acts off-limits for gays and lesbians while allowing them for
"[A]n adults right to engage in consensual and noncommercial sexual
activities in the privacy of that adults home is a matter of intimate
personal concern which is at the heart of the right to privacy in
Arkansas," wrote Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge David Bogard,
according to the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the group that
brought the case on behalf of seven gay and lesbian Arkansas residents.
"[T]his right should not be diminished or afforded less constitutional
protection when the adults engaging in that private activity are of the same
The 1977 law provided for punishment of up to one year in jail and a fine
of $1,000 for oral and anal sex between two people of the same gender. It did
not apply to heterosexual couples.
The Associated Press reports that the law had never been enforced.
But Ruth Harlow, Lambdas legal director, said the ruling was nonetheless
important, since it removed the stigma of "second-class citizenship"
that hung over the heads of Arkansas gays and lesbians.
"[T]he Sodomy Statute simply does not have equal application, it
unjustifiably discriminates, and thus is unconstitutional" under the
state constitution, Bogard wrote, according to Lambda.
"The people of Arkansas have the right to legislate on issues
involving morals, but homosexuality is not only a question of morals,"
the AP quoted Bogard as writing.
A decision on whether to appeal has not yet been made by the Arkansas
attorney generals office, according to the AP.
If Bogards ruling stands, Lambda says, it will leave only three states
Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma with gay-specific sodomy laws. Roughly a
dozen other states have sodomy laws that apply to both same-sex and
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