Sodomy Law Said Unconstitutional
Post, March 23, 2001
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. A judge threw out Arkansas
anti-sodomy law Friday, saying it unfairly singles out homosexuals for
No one has been prosecuted under the 1977 law. But seven homosexuals
brought a lawsuit challenging the law, saying they feared being charged and
convicted and losing their jobs or professional licenses.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge David Bogard said the Arkansas Legislature
erred when it barred consensual, noncommercial sexual activities between
people of the same sex while permitting the same activities among
The Arkansas law carried a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
The state argued that the government had an interest in criminalizing
behavior that most of its citizens would find morally inappropriate, but
"The people of Arkansas have the right to legislate on issues
involving morals, but homosexuality is not only a question of morals,"
Bogard said a way of life "that is odd or even erratic" cannot be
condemned just because it is different.
Ruth Harlow, legal director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
in New York, which represented the group, said that even though no one was
prosecuted, its members did not like being branded as criminals.
"The law hangs over their heads and treats them like second-class
citizens," she said. "It says its illegal when you do it but not
when your neighbor does, as long as they are heterosexual."
The Arkansas attorney generals office said it has not decided whether to
Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah have similar laws.
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