Legislature Likely to Take Up Sodomy Law Again
April 19, 2001
801 Texas Avenue, Houston, TX 77002
By Armando Villafranca
AUSTIN The Texas Legislature appears poised, once
again, to consider a repeal of the states century-old sodomy law.
The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee late Wednesday approved a bill
that would repeal the law banning homosexual intercourse. The bill now goes to
the House Calendars Committee to be scheduled for debate by the full House.
The author of HB 687, state Rep. Debra Danburg, D-Houston, had said she
would not ask for debate on her bill unless it was supported by both
Republicans and Democrats. Two Republicans did join the five Democrats on the
Criminal Jurisprudence Committee to make the vote 7-2 in favor of the bill.
Danburg said it is time for Texas to change its unique and rarely enforced
"Were one of only three states in the nation (with) a specifically
homosexual sodomy prohibition," she said. "While its only a class
C misdemeanor, like a traffic ticket, unlike a traffic ticket it is used as a
tool of discrimination."
Two Houston men were charged under the law which makes sodomy a class C
misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $500 in 1998 and
challenged its constitutionality. The 14th Court of Appeals last month turned
them down and said the law did not violate constitutional rights of equal
protection or privacy.
Danburg said Texas should change its law to avoid further court battles.
This is not the first time Danburg whose legislative district
encompasses much of Houstons homosexual community has tried to get the
states sodomy law repealed. Her attempts in two previous legislative
sessions failed to make it out of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.
Gay activists are hopeful this Legislative session will be different than
Dianne Hardy-Garcia, executive director of Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby of
Texas, said the climate is different this year in Austin than in the past when
the issue evoked emotional debates along moral lines.
She believes Legislators now see the issue as more about equal protection
rather than the homosexual life-style.
"It really doesnt matter whether you approve of homosexuality or
not, what really matters is whether you should be treated equally under the
law," Hardy-Garcia said.
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