Georgia Overturns Anti-Sodomy Law
Associated Press, November 23, 1998
By James Pilcher
ATLANTA (AP) -- The Georgia Supreme Court today overturned the state's
anti-sodomy law, saying it violates the Georgia Constitution's guarantee of a right to
The court voted 6-1 to overturn the sodomy conviction of Anthony Powell, who was
convicted of sodomizing his 17-year-old niece in 1996. Powell's lawyers had argued that
the sex was consensual.
The law has been the subject of previous challenges but was upheld by the U.S. Supreme
Court in a landmark decision in 1986.
Chief Justice Robert Benham, writing for the majority today, said it "manifestly
infringes upon a constitutional provision ... which guarantees to the citizens of Georgia
the right of privacy."
In the U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the law, the court ruled 5-4 that that
consenting adults have no constitutional right to private homosexual conduct.
The court reversed the federal appeals court ruling that the Georgia law, which defined
sodomy as "any sexual act involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or
anus of another" infringes on a "fundamental" constitutional right.
The Georgia law was challenged by Michael Hardwick, a gay Atlanta bartender who was
arrested in 1982 for committing sodomy in his home.
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