Sodomy Ban Considered
The Cincinnati Enquirer, January 16, 1996
by Patrick Crowley
Covington--Northern Kentucky's two Republican state senators will
support a constitutional amendment outlawing sodomy--if the amendment is introduced and
voted on during the current session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
Sen. Tim Philpot, R-Lexington, told The Enquirer on Monday he is studying various
drafts of an amendment and will decide within weeks whether he will introduce it.
"I'm looking at a lot of different versions that are floating around," Sen.
Philpot said, "but we have to be confident that if we file a bill it can withstand a
constitutional challenge and pass the courts."
Mr. Philpot would not discuss the specifics, such as whether the proposed bills would
outlaw sodomy between consenting opposite-sex adults or only between people of the same
Sodomy is defined by Webster's New World Dictionary as "any sexual intercourse
held to be abnormal," including "anal intercourse between two males."
Sens. Dick Roeding, R-Fort Mitchell, and Gex "Jay" Williams, R-Verona, said
Monday they would support the amendment.
"I'm against sodomy," Sen. Roeding said. "It's a terrible thing. If the
voters can get a chance at the amendment, it will pass."
Mr. Williams, who has tried to pass anti-sodomy laws in the past, called the Kentucky
Supreme Court's 1992 decision overturning a law that criminalized sodomy by people of the
same sex "a bad decision."
Mr. Williams said he opposes sodomy on moral grounds and does not think gays should be
protected under anti-disrimination or other laws.
The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that oral sex falls under the definition of
However, the Commonwealth's high court ruled in 1992 that the state's sodomy law was an
unconstitutional invasion of privacy. The court said that the Kentucky Constitution
guarantees a right to privacy that covers sexual acts between consenting adults and that
sodomy should not be against the law.
Therefore, an amendment would be needed to change the state constitution and make
sodomy a criminal offense.
The amendment would need three-fifths of the vote from the full House and Senate to
make it onto November's ballot. Then voters would decide whether sodomy should be illegal
Mr. Philpot said he fears any amendment will be killed in committee by the General
Assembly's Democratic leadership. In 1994, similar amendments were proposed in both the
House and the Senate.
The amendment passed a House committee but died after House Democrats voted behind
closed doors not to put the amendment on the ballot.
"I wish the leadership in the House and Senate would allow bills to be discussed
in committee," Mr. Philpot said, "where the legislators, the press, the public
and anybody else could sit and listen and members of the public could comment.
"But the way it happens so often now is that bills get killed by committee chairs
of the majority party. That's very unhealthy and very unfortunate."
As many as 24 states have laws prohibiting sodomy. [NOTE: This is erroneous; only 22
states still have them]
In 1986, the US Supreme Court decided by a 5-to-4 vote that it was constitutional for
Georgia to enforce a state sodomy law against gays while not implementing it against
The constitutional right of privacy does not extend to private consensual sodomy among
gays, the majority of the justices said.
The ruling has been challenged and is before a federal circuit court in Atlanta.
Senate Majority Leader David Karem, D-Louisville, said he does not think an amendment
outlawing sodomy would have a lot of support in the legislature or the state.
"The only way to make an amendment work, within the bounds of the federal
constitution, is to make it apply to everyone," Mr. Karem said Monday. "That
means it would have to apply to husbands and wives.
"My feeling is that there is a growing number of people who believe government
does not need to be in the family's bedroom."
Sen. Joe Meyer, D-Covington, said he wishes Senate Republicans would concentrate on
amendments "that do things like reduce taxes, which is what we're trying to do in the
Democrats and Republicans are involved in a political fitht over when and how the
Senate should vote on a proposed amendment eliminating the state taxes on intangible
property, such as stocks and other investments, and unmined minerals.
"I would much rather have a tax issue on the ballot than (the sodomy) issue,"
Mr. Meyer said.
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