Last edited: February 14, 2005

Sodomy Still Illegal in US Military, March 24, 2001

By Paul Johnson

Washington, DC — Oral sex continues to be grounds for a dishonorable discharge from the US military. A commission examining the Uniform Code of Military Justice has been told the regulation is out of step with American morals.

Noting that it "undermines good order, discipline and morale in our armed services," Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) urged the commission, chaired by Judge Walter T. Cox III to recommend repeal of Article 125 and decriminalize sodomy between consenting adults. The Commission will make its final recommendations to the White House and Congress in late May or early June.

Speaking on behalf of SLDN, Sharra Greer, a staff attorney with the legal aid and watchdog group, testified before the committee that "military commanders should not devote scarce military resources to policing the bedrooms of those who defend our country." Greer also noted that repeal of the military’s sodomy statute "in no way impedes our military from punishing other sexual misconduct, including assault, harassment or rape."

The statute, known as Article 125, prohibits both same gender and opposite gender oral and anal sex, regardless of whether activity is private, between consensual adults or even between husband and wife. The penalties under Article 125 are severe, punishable by dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and confinement for five years. Greer noted in her testimony that "punishment for sodomy is more severe than the punishment for negligent homicide, extortion, assault upon a child and aggravated assault with means other than a loaded firearm."

SLDN informed the Cox Commission that the sodomy statute is selectively enforced and unfairly targets lesbian, gay and bisexual service members. "It is too easy for a jilted lover or an angry roommate to bring allegations of sodomy and end the career of a service member for engaging in consensual sexual activity," Greer said. "Article 125 becomes the Damocles sword hanging over every service member’s head if they cross someone."

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