High Court Strikes Down Sodomy Law
Eagle, June 27, 2003 (excerpted local content)
South Kansas Avenue, Wichita, KS 66603
By Abe Levy and Steve Painter, The Wichita Eagle
A landmark decision by the nation’s top court Thursday
that struck down a ban on gay sex elicited strong reactions, pro and con, from
people in Kansas and elsewhere. . . .
Kansas is one of 13 states with laws prohibiting sodomy.
The court, in effect, nullified all of them.
While some people called the ruling an attack on biblical
values and the traditional family, others saw it as a human rights victory
that will cut down on discrimination against the gay and lesbian community.
“The sodomy law has been justification for
discrimination against gays and lesbians for many years,” said Vinnie Levin,
owner of the Liberty Press, a gay and lesbian newspaper in Kansas.
The ruling brings closer the possibility for insurance
benefits for homosexual partners, adoption rights and ultimately
state-recognized marriages, she said.
The Rev. Terry Fox of Immanuel Baptist Church in Wichita
said the ruling undermines the biblical model of family and should spur
Christians to speak out against homosexuality.
“The far majority of people are still anti-sodomy.
That’s a fact,” said Fox, a national leader with the Southern Baptist
Convention. “It just absolutely defaces what we have understood to be
Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston said she
would honor the ruling as required by her job, but it likely will have little
effect on the cases her office prosecutes.
That’s because the Kansas sodomy law was rarely used,
she said. She said she couldn’t recall a single sodomy case being prosecuted
since she joined the district attorney’s office in 1977.
The ruling doesn’t allow for gay marriages, nor does it
affect the policing of prostitution, pedophilia or other sexual crimes, she
“Law enforcement has not been the sex police, peeking
into windows,” she said. “It seems those people who have same-sex
relationships have remained private.” . . .
“There’s no need for the Legislature to visit the
subject now,” said House Speaker Doug Mays, a Topeka Republican.
Added House Democratic Leader Dennis McKinney of
Greensburg: “We have a lot of other unconstitutional laws on our books.”
Some of those get removed in periodic reviews of outdated
statutes, said Senate President Dave Kerr, a Hutchinson Republican.
But Wichita Rep. Brenda Landwehr said the sodomy law
should stay on the books.
“The Supreme Court has overstepped its bounds and
violated its constitutional duty. The Supreme Court’s job is not to make
cultural decisions for states,” said Landwehr, a Republican.
Scott Curry, a gay and lesbian advocate and lawyer in
Wichita, called the ruling an affirmation of basic human rights.
“I think this decision is the same for gays and
lesbians that maybe the civil acts movement was for race,” he said. “For
the first time in many years, gays and lesbians are not criminals simply for
being gays and lesbians.” . . .
The decision could help foster more unity in the nation,
said Graylan Hawkins-Pyles, pastor of the First Metropolitan Community Church,
a congregation in Wichita with a majority of gay and lesbian members.
“Just think of what you can learn if you get the
opportunity to just to get to know me and don’t look at my skin color or
sexuality,” he said. “We learn from each other, and that’s what heals a
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