Military Panel Rejects Sodomy Law
Gay.com / PlanetOut.com
Network, May 30, 2001
By Barbara Dozetos
SUMMARY: A panel established by the National Institute of Military
Justice says the Pentagon should eliminate the armed services sodomy law.
A panel established by the National Institute of Military Justice says the
Pentagon should eliminate the armed services sodomy law.
The seven-member Commission on the 50th Anniversary of the Uniform Code of
Military Justice released its review of the UCMJ today. Among its
recommendations was the repeal of the militarys sodomy statute, also known
as Article 125.
"Of all of the topics that appeared on the Commissions long list of
possible areas for consideration, the issue of prosecuting consensual sex
offenses attracted the greatest number of responses from both individuals and
organizations," the commissioners report said. "The Commission
concurs with the majority of these assessments in recommending that consensual
sodomy and adultery be eliminated as separate offenses in the UCMJ and the
Manual for Courts-Martial."
The panel, headed by retired Federal Appeals Judge Walter T. Cox, III,
found that prosecutions of the current military laws on adultery and sodomy
"are treated in an arbitrary, even vindictive, manner." They suggest
the adoption of "a comprehensive Criminal Sexual Conduct statute"
similar to laws passed in recent years by state legislatures.
"The commission is appropriately urging Congress to step into the
present and do right by our men and women in uniform. The militarys sodomy
law is antiquated and should be repealed," said C. Dixon Osburn,
executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN).
SLDN submitted written comments to the commission supporting a repeal of
Article 125. Sharra E. Greer, SLDNs legal director, testified before the
commission at a public hearing earlier this year. "Article 125 is a
throwback to English common law that has long since been abandoned by the
militaries of the original NATO countries, including Great Britain, on whose
law ours relies," said Greer.
The commission report has been forwarded to Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld, who is currently overseeing a comprehensive review of Pentagon
personnel policies. The chairpersons and ranking members of the Senate and
House committees on armed services, as well as the Code Committee on Military
Justice, will also receive copies.
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