Texas Rep. Danburg Files Bill Seeking Sodomy Laws Removal
January 20, 2001
801 Texas Avenue, Houston, TX, 77002
By Eric Berger
Armed with a recent court ruling calling Texas sodomy law unconstitutional, State
Rep. Debra Danburg, D-Houston, has again filed a bill to remove the law from the books.
Danburg said the law, which bans anal and oral sex between homosexuals, is archaic.
"Its only used for the very thing a majority of Texans say they dont
support discrimination," she said.
Also, with the ruling on the books, the state is forced to mount costly defenses
against challenges to the law most notably a 1998 case in which two gay men were
arrested for having sex, Danburg said.
Texas sodomy law is rarely enforced, but when it was enforced in the 1998 case,
gay rights activists seized upon that arrest as an opportunity to challenge the measure in
The two men, John Geddes Lawrence, 57, and Tyrone Garner, 33, sued the state claiming
the law was unconstitutional. Last June, a three-judge panel of the 14th Court of Appeals
ruled 2-1 that the law violated the Equal Rights Amendment of the states
Constitution by singling out homosexuals.
The case is pending before the full 14th Court of Appeals, and a hearing date has not
Unless the Danburg bill is passed, the case will almost certainly be appealed to the
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which would have the final say on the matter statewide.
"I think theres a particular timeliness to bringing this up, given that
ruling," said Dianne Hardy-Garcia, executive director of the Lesbian Gay Rights Lobby
of Texas. "Debras the perfect person to carry it, she understands and has
followed this legal battle and legislative battle for years."
The Republican Party of Texas has strongly opposed removing the sodomy law, and
attacked the two judges both Republicans that ruled the law
They added the following to their platform:
"We publicly rebuke (Chief Justice Paul Murphy and Justice John Anderson), who
ruled that the 100-year-old Texas sodomy law is unconstitutional, and ask that all members
of the Republican Party of Texas oppose their re-election," the platform states.
Anderson was unopposed for re-election in November. Murphys term is not up until
Danburg has filed a bill to remove the sodomy law half a dozen times. During the last
two legislative sessions, the bill has not made it out of the criminal jurisprudence
Of the nine members of the House committee this session, five are Democrats who will
support the measure, Danburg said, including its chairman, Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen.
Danburg said she only feels the bill should come out of the committee with bipartisan
support, so she is looking to have two Republicans join the five Democrats.
She said one of the four Republicans has privately pledged to support the measure if
another one does.
"All we need is one more Republican," she said.
Kathryn A. Wolfe in Austin contributed to this report.
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