Texas Court Upholds Sodomy Law
Associated Press, March 15, 2001
By Kristen Hays
HOUSTON (AP) A Texas appeals court upheld the
states sodomy law Thursday in the case of two men charged with having sex
in a private home.
The nine-member 14th Court of Appeals voted 7-2 to overturn a June ruling
by three members of the same panel that said the law was unconstitutional
because it forbids sex between same-sex partners, yet allows the same acts
The sodomy law, which has been on the books for more than a century, was
challenged after John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner were arrested on Sept.
17, 1998 and charged with engaging in homosexual conduct.
Harris County sheriffs deputies had entered Lawrences apartment after
receiving a false report of an armed intruder inside but found the men having
Under the sodomy law, homosexual oral and anal sex is a Class C
misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500.
Lawrence and Garner pleaded no contest in a justice of the peace court and
later in a Harris County Criminal Court-at-Law so they could start the legal
Prosecutor Bill Delmore said he was pleased with the ruling.
Ruth E. Harlow, legal director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education
Fund, who argued the case on behalf of the two men, said they would appeal.
"The courts ruling failed to enforce the constitutions promise
of equality," she said.
She said the ruling also allows the government to overstep its bounds by
"bashing down the bedroom door" to criminalize consensual sex
between same-sex partners.
"It guts the right to privacy," she said.
Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas are the only states that outlaw sodomy
between same-sex partners. Texas has had a sodomy law since 1860 but
decriminalized it for opposite-sex partners in 1974.
Twelve other states prohibit sodomy between same- and opposite-sex
partners. Harlow said similar laws in Georgia, Tennessee and Montana have
recently been thrown out.
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