Time for Texas to Let Go of Archaic Anti-Sodomy Law
March 20, 2001
801 Texas Avenue, Houston, TX 77002
An appellate court has reactivated Texas sodomy law by reversing a
ruling by a smaller panel of the same court that managed to understand that it
is a violation of the Constitutions equal protection clause when laws apply
differently to different groups of people.
The 14th Court of Appeals, whose members all are Republicans, took up the
case under pressure from some Republican Party activists. A three-judge panel
of the same court had ruled in June that the sodomy law violated the Texas
Constitutions Equal Rights Amendment.
The case stems from the arrest in 1998 of two Houston men for having sex.
In reviewing the earlier decision, the full court ruled 7-2 that the Texas law
barring certain sex acts between homosexuals does not violate equal rights
provisions, even though the law does not apply to heterosexuals. This decision
is legally binding on the 14-county area, including Harris, over which the
14th Court of Appeals has jurisdiction.
In a stunning display of weak argument, Justice J. Harvey Hudson said the
courts decision came of its unwillingness to "[usurp] the role of the
Legislature." Hudson should remember that his job as a judge is to exert
himself when the Legislature writes laws contrary to the Constitution.
The fact that he wrote in the opinion that homosexual sex is "widely
perceived to be destructive and immoral" is evidence of the judges
personal view, as such intimate encounters also are widely perceived in our
society to be no one elses business.
Lawyers for the two men plan to appeal the case to the Texas Court of
Criminal Appeals, which may decide not to hear it. The next step would be the
U.S. Supreme Court, which also may decide not to take it up.
State lawmakers could make this costly court battle unnecessary by passing
legislation by State Rep. Debra Danburg, D-Houston, to overturn Texas
archaic sodomy law, a continuing embarrassment to this great state.
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