Last edited: February 14, 2005

1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay & Bi Equal Rights and Liberation Host Committee, Washington, DC

January 29, 1993

Dear Councilmembers.

The Host Committee of the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation strongly urges you to repeal the District of Columbia anti-sodomy statute (22D.C. code 3502).

When we look at a legislative map of the country, state by state, the District of Columbia is in the minority by having an anti-sodomy statute. As of today, 27 states have repealed all sodomy laws. 8 states have laws against homosexual sodomy and 15 states and the District forbid both homo and heterosexual sodomy.

In most instances, laws governing sexual behavior of mature individuals in the privacy of their own home date back one, two or even three centuries. This takes us back to a time when slavery was legal and later, when the Jim Crow Laws reigned supreme.

Just in the past 50 years, we have witnessed great advances in both human and civil rights and in an individual’s right to self-fulfillment — based on his or her judgment — not that of a narrow segment of society. In organizing for the April 25 March on Washington, we are striving to further this tradition.

We must recognize that the prohibition of sodomy comes from religious quarters. In a secular, pluralistic society, we have a responsibility of keeping our religious views separate from the legislative process. While we respect individual beliefs, in no way may they infringe on anyone else’s life.

Most legal authorities in the U.S., including The American Bar Association and The American Law Institute, have favored the repeal of sodomy laws. Regulating sexual behavior in the privacy on one’s bedroom is an unwarranted violation of an individual’s right to make personal decisions. Clearly, if two people agree on an act, there is no "victim." Just last year, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the sodomy law violated the Kentucky Constitution’s guarantee of the right to privacy.

Sodomy laws effect everyone: women and men; homosexual and heterosexual. In the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual communities, existing sodomy laws are used to deny people civil rights. Because the person is perceived to be breaking a law, he or she, for example, is not allowed to get child custody. The argument is framed like this: "How can you be a legal guardian if you are a criminal?" Washington DC has a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. How can the same city have laws that are used to discriminate against the same group it is legally seeking to protect. This is a contradiction.

The Lesbian and Gay community, however, is not the only one that is effected by sodomy laws. Women who seek control of their bodies and reproductive lives are also a target. The sodomy law covers non-procreational, heterosexual behavior. Thus, a woman’s hard won freedom is threatened.

When we look at the District of Columbia statute, we see it criminalizes virtually all non-procreative sexual activity. It is estimated that 90-95 percent of us have broken this law — whether we are gay or straight, male or female, married or single.

In previous efforts to repeal the law, this fact has been stressed. In response, we were told that the law in not enforced and we should not be concerned. One only needs to look back to last February to see that this is false. In a police raid on the Follies night club, there were multiple arrests on sodomy charges. Only a few weeks later, a man was charged with sodomy on "N" street in Northwest.

The Host Committee for the March on Washington expects to bring hundreds of thousands of people to the capital. We want to make sure that no one is effected by the law. The statute has been used and anyone can be a target. It is a violation of privacy in a pluralistic society. Repeal the law now.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

Jarmila Dokladalova,
Co-Chair, Host Committee March on Washington


Host Committee, P.O. Box 53411, Washington, D.C. 20005 (202) 828-3091

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