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repealed all sodomy laws. 8 states have laws against homosexual sodomy and 15 states and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 individuals 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 elses 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 ones bedroom is an unwarranted violation of an individuals
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 Constitutions 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
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 womans 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.
Host Committee, P.O. Box 53411, Washington, D.C. 20005 (202) 828-3091