Texas Part of The Pot Needs Stirring Up
San Francisco Examiner,
June 13, 2000
P. O. Box 7260, San Francisco, CA 94120
By Stephanie Salter, Examiner Columnist
ARE WE a paradoxical country or what?
On the same day that Detroits Big Three automakers agreed to provide health care
benefits for the domestic partners of lesbian and gay employees, the Texas attorney
general was trying to decide whether to appeal a court ruling that found the states
1860 sodomy law unconstitutional.
And you thought that big melting pot metaphor was passe?
Up in the southeastern Michigan portion of the pot, we have Ford, General Motors and
DaimlerChrysler hardly considered on the radical fringe of corporate policy making
all agreeing to extend dental, medical and pharmacy insurance benefits to same-sex
partners of office and factory employees.
The promise will translate into relatively small sums: Ford estimates about $5 million
on top of the companys existing $2.4 billion health care budget. But the symbolic
value of the agreement is incalculable.
"When the Big Three come together as a group to announce domestic benefits for
same-sex couples, its really a sea change," said Kim Mills, of the lesbian-gay
advocacy group, Human Rights Campaign. "We have not seen this kind of movement in the
Especially from Chrysler.
Just three years ago, before Daimler-Benz took over the company, it was Chrysler that
pulled its commercial spots from the historic Ellen-Comes-Out episode of Ellen
DeGeneres late, sometimes-lamented, TV show.
In explaining their decision, the big cheeses at Chrysler said the company preferred
not to run ads on controversial programs that divided Americans.
What a difference three years, and a new team of British executives, can make.
Perhaps they can all pay a consciousness-raising visit to the southeastern Texas
portion of the big melting pot, where a 140-year-old law still makes it a crime for people
of the same sex to engage in oral or anal intercourse.
While there are still 12 states that outlaw sodomy between any configuration of couple
- straight as well as gay Texas is one of only four states that says its
exclusively verboten for gays.
The other three are Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas [and Missouri Bob].
Last week, the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston overturned the conviction of two men
who were arrested for having sex in their own bedroom in 1998.
In a 2-1 decision, the court said that Texas 140-year-old sodomy law was being
used to discriminate against homosexuals who are guaranteed equal protection under the
states 1972 equal rights amendment to the constitution.
Said the appellate court ruling:
"The simple fact is, the same behavior is criminal for some but not for others,
based solely on the sex of the individuals who engage in the behavior. In other words, the
sex of the individual is the sole determinant of the criminality of the conduct."
According to the Associated Press, the Houston district attorney, who originally
brought the case against the two men, was expected to appeal. The Texas attorney
generals office has not yet decided if it will join in.
But, in a brief submitted last year on the case, the state A.G. maintained that the
homosexual sodomy ban was meant to dissuade "immoral conduct" and bolster
The dissenting appeals justice apparently agrees. In his minority opinion, he wrote
that homosexuality "represents a gross deviation from historic perceptions of
So, there you have a couple of contrasting ladlefuls from two parts of the big pot.
What gets you medical and dental benefits in Detroit might still get you thrown in jail in
Anybody got a big spoon?
[Home] [Editorials] [Texas]