Last edited: February 14, 2005

Group Wants Ohio to Outlaw All Gay and Lesbian Sex

Gay People’s Chronicle, May 24, 2002
P.O. Box 5426, Cleveland Ohio 44101
Fax: 216-631-1052

By Eric Resnick

Cincinnati—Ohio’s "sodomy" law banning oral and anal sex was repealed 30 years ago, but it would be restored for gays and lesbians if an anti-gay group has their way.

Citizens for Community Values hopes to introduce a bill in the Ohio legislature to make sexual contact between adults of the same sex illegal. Attorney David Langdon said that he has been "asked to look into" drafting the bill by the Cincinnati group.

Langdon authored the Defense of Marriage Act introduced by State Rep. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati, which passed the Ohio House last fall. The measure, which bars recognition of same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships, is now in the Ohio Senate.

Langdon also represents the anti-gay American Family Association of Ohio, and has argued on their behalf before the Ohio Supreme Court on two occasions. The first was against a lesbian couple wanting a probate court to recognize their parenting agreement. The second was against a lesbian couple seeking to share a common last name.

Most recently, Langdon has been hired by the five Cleveland Heights individuals seeking to repeal same sex domestic partner benefits enacted by city council April 15.

That group calls itself Families First, but claims no affiliation with the political action committee of the same name that lobbies for Seitz’s marriage ban, and whose board Langdon serves on.

Langdon said that a May 15 Ohio Supreme Court ruling that the state’s "importuning" law is unconstitutional made introduction of the new sodomy measure more urgent, but that it was something CCV has been considering for a while. The importuning law made it a crime to ask someone of the same gender to have sex if it would offend them.

Langdon said that he agrees with the distinction drawn by Justice Deborah Cook in the opinion she authored for the majority of the justices. Cook wrote that a same-sex solicitation violating the importuning law is protected by constitutional free speech guarantees. Her opinion did not address sexual activity or conduct.

Neither CCV nor AFA-Ohio, nor any other anti-gay group filed friend of the court briefs in favor of the importuning law.

"According to Justice Cook, that conduct is still permissible," said Langdon, "and that"s what we want to address."

"This is just in the beginning stages," said Langdon of the new sodomy law, "but I can tell you that this would only cover homosexual acts, and would be very much like the law in Texas."

The Texas law makes homosexual oral and anal intercourse a misdemeanor. It was upheld by the state’s highest court in April when it refused to hear an appeal of a lower court’s decision that the legislature is free to make laws based on its view of moral conduct. Texas amended the law in 1974 to permit oral and anal intercourse between opposite-sex partners.

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund hopes the United States Supreme Court will hear its appeal to overturn the Texas courts.

Ohio repealed its 19th century sodomy law in 1972, when it passed sweeping reforms of the criminal code. That reform, which took effect in 1974, also created the importuning law.

All but 13 state sodomy laws have been repealed or voided by courts. Most were repealed in the 1970s. No new ones have been passed in the last 30 years.

Langdon said he was unaware of the history shared by Ohio’s sodomy and importuning laws, but added, "Since the Texas decision, we have been noodling around this issue for Ohio. We think it’s time to get serious and put some teeth in Ohio’s law."

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