Supreme Court Should Reject Anti-Gay Laws
Today, March 11, 2003
Box 419000, Melbourne, FL 32941
Laws banning sex between consenting homosexual adults
remain on the books in four states, but the U.S. Supreme Court may strike them
down when it considers a challenge to Texas sodomy laws later this month.
Such laws go largely unenforced, partly because
enforcement is next to impossible, but also partly because they no longer
reflect the beliefs of many Americans.
In a 1986 Georgia case, however, the Supreme Court ruled
that states could still penalize gays for engaging in private sex acts. Gay
rights’ activists are optimistic the court’s willingness to reconsider the
subject means times have changed.
We hope the court will recognize that sodomy laws are
unconstitutional violations of federally protected rights to privacy and
freedom from discrimination.
Striking them down is the right decision, not only
because the federal government shouldn’t tell consenting adults what they
can or can’t do in the bedroom, but more importantly because it would
represent a landmark ruling on gay rights.
“Sodomy laws have been used to deny gays all sorts of
rights, including adoption and workplace rights,” says Lorri L. Jean,
executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Their removal, according to Jean, would mean an end to
the treatment of gays as criminals solely because of who they are. It would
also establish a broad precedent in the battle for equitable treatment of gays
in the United States, especially in the area of adoption.
And Florida, as the only state that bans adoptions by all
gays, is on the front lines of that battle.
The state received intense media attention last year when
entertainer Rosie O’Donnell found that because of her sexual orientation she
was unable to adopt a foster child here.
Mississippi and Utah ban adoption by same-sex couples,
but allow individual homosexuals to adopt, and many states don’t allow
what’s called second-parent adoption in which gays formally adopt the
children of their partners.
Such laws are not only discriminatory, but harmful to
children, particularly the more than 3,400 now in state custody in Florida and
in need of permanent adoptive homes.
Bans on second-parent adoptions also ignore the best
interests of children involved, who do best in the more secure atmosphere two
legal parents can provide.
The American Association of Pediatrics backed that belief
in a 2002 policy statement supporting legal recognition of second parents in
If the Supreme Court strikes down sodomy laws in Texas,
as it should, the next domino to fall may be laws banning adoptions by
responsible, caring homosexual couples. That’s what needs to happen for
children of gay foster parents and for a more just society for us all.
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