Remove Sodomy From Military Law Gay Advocates Urge
October 2, 2003
By Doreen Brandt, 365Gay.com Newscenter, Washington Bureau
Washington, D.C.—The military’s highest court is
being urged to remove sodomy laws from the code of conduct. When the US
Supreme Court nine months ago struck down sodomy laws in Texas and other
states, the ruling did not affect the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The military sodomy law, section 125, applies both to heterosexual and
homosexual sodomy regardless of where the act takes place, meaning that even
married couples could be prosecuted for committing sodomy in the privacy of
their own home.
Technical Sergeant Eric Marcum was convicted of consensual sodomy with a
fellow airman of the same sex at Marcum’s home. At least two other cases are
moving forward that challenge the military sodomy law. Both of the cases
involve heterosexual sodomy.
Today three LGBT rights groups
filed friend of the court briefs on Marcum’s behalf. Lambda Legal, the ACLU,
and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network argue that in light of the Supreme
Court ruling Article 125 must be struck down as well.
An amicus kbrief was also filed today by noted military sociologist Charles
Moskos and eight other social scientists and military experts. Their brief
disputes the military’s assertion that consensual sodomy undermines unit
cohesion or military effectiveness.
“This law makes it a crime to have consensual sex behind closed doors—
and carries prison terms greater that violent crimes like attempted
homicide,” said Pat Logue, Interim Legal Director for Lambda Legal and one
of the lead attorneys who handled the Lawrence case for Lambda Legal.
“The U.S. Supreme Court said that these laws violate a fundamental right
to privacy,” said Logue.
“The government should not imprison people for private, consensual, adult
conduct,” said SLDN Executive Director C. Dixon Osburn. “Those who serve
our country deserve better than to be subject to a law that is now
James Esseks, Litigation Director of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Project of
the ACLU argues that while the military should have the right to regulate the
conduct of its personnel to ensure that military operations run smoothly, it
has no business interfering in the private, consensual sex lives of the
“What a servicemember chooses to do while off duty in the privacy of his
or her own home has absolutely no effect on national security,” said Art
Spitzer, Legal Director of the ACLU National Capital Area.
In 2001, a blue ribbon panel chaired by Judge Walter T. Cox III was ordered
to review the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) on its fiftieth
anniversary. Calling military sodomy prosecutions “arbitrary, even
vindictive,” the Cox Commission recommended that Congress repeal Article 125
and replace it with a statute governing sexual abuse similar to laws adopted
by many states and in Title 18 of the United States Code.
Congress has not acted on the Commission’s recommendations and the law
remains in effect.
Oral arguments are scheduled for next week with a decision likely late this
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