Column: Getting It Straight
December 14, 1998
17 W. 12th St., Columbus, GA 31902
By Tim Chitwood
Today we feature this e-mail from Paul W. Hinson, responding to a Dec. 6 column about
Georgia's unconstitutional sodomy law:
Regarding your article and your quote as follows: "The Georgia Supreme Court two
years ago also upheld the law in a challenge based on the state constitution. In that
case, a man had solicited sodomy from an undercover policeman, in public." This is a
well-intentioned article which misses the mark: the sodomy law is no "joke" and
has been used to victimize primarily homosexual people for decades. The case you cite
raises some interesting questions, but you sort of twist the facts a bit. What does
"in public" mean? The older case you refer to in your quote . . . involved a
homosexual who (1) approached an undercover cop in a park; (2) eventually propositioned
the cop which was followed by the cop's acceptance. Incredibly, the homosexual proposed
that they go to a private motel room, they then WENT to a PRIVATE MOTEL ROOM, checked in,
the fellow made his move, and was only THEN arrested. Check your facts. I believe the
implication is that something "unseemly" was done in "public." This is
not the case.
Until recently, it appears that police officers were the only individuals for whom
"solicitation of sodomy" was legal. By the standard implied in this case, it
should have been illegal for a man to "solicit" sex/sodomy/whatever from a woman
"in a public place," i.e., a bar/sidewalk/park/church social. This was really
the interesting but twisted legal logic in this particular decision. Why don't you try to
include a little content in your stories?
Because there's no room.
A Georgia Supreme Court Web page summarizing that 5-2 ruling says: "The decision .
. . upholds the misdemeanor solicitation of sodomy conviction L. Chris Christensen
received for telling an undercover officer . . . at a Rockdale County rest area, `I'm just
looking for (oral sex).' The defendant agreed to follow the officer to a nearby motel.
While en route, Christensen was pulled over and arrested."
Wrote Justice Norman S. Fletcher: "Whatever the extent of the privacy rights under
the Georgia constitution of consenting adults in their homes, these rights do not protect
solicitation of explicit sexual acts from total strangers in public rest areas."
It's true that if a man asks a woman for oral sex, he probably won't be prosecuted,
unless he's the president. On the other hand, some guys occasionally have congregated in
public park men's restrooms for the purpose of propositioning visitors, and I doubt
heterosexual guys would be allowed to do that in the ladies' room.
Got a thought? Write: Chitwood, P.O. Box 711, Columbus, Ga., 31902-0711. Or send e-mail
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