UT-Austin Students to Debate Texas Sodomy Law Resolution
January 9, 2003
AUSTIN—The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender,
Ally Affairs Agency (GLBTA) at the University of Texas at Austin announced the
hearing of the organization’s Student Government resolution seeking repeal
of the state’s sodomy law on Tuesday.
The resolution, AR 20, entitled "Calling for the state of Texas to
repeal the ‘Homosexual Conduct’ Law (Section 21.06)" will be debated
and voted on at the Student Government assembly meeting, 7 p.m. in the Student
Services Building Glenn Maloney room, 100-C West Dean Keeton Street on January
Students at UT-Austin are encouraged to attend the Student Government
meeting to speak for the resolution during debate. Officials say student
experiences and opinions will be a determining factor for many of the voting
representatives of the assembly.
The resolution includes student concerns of discrimination, the use of the
sodomy law (Section 21.06) to deny health care benefits at UT, and the current
financial burden imposed on the UT System as a result of the law.
"Texas’ Homosexual Conduct Law is akin to old state laws that once
criminalized interracial marriage," said Bobby Apperson, author of AR 20.
"Those who support its existence, even when arguing that it should not be
enforced, fail to realize that this law makes all gay, lesbian and bisexual
people in Texas second-class citizens."
The filing of AR 20 came as the U.S. Supreme Court announced last month
that it will hear the appeal of Lawrence and Garner v. Texas, a case dating
back to September 1998. The high court will make a ruling on the
constitutionality of Texas’s ‘Homosexual Conduct’ Law (commonly called
the ‘sodomy statute’) by June, but the court’s decision could have
lasting effects far beyond Texas’ borders.
AR 20 details the long and often confusing history of Section 21.06 and the
use of the law to criminalize gay, lesbian and bisexual Texans in many aspects
of public life. Texas has had a sodomy law since 1860, and in 1974 same-sex
acts (heterosexual sodomy) were decriminalized. Sodomy is defined in the state
of Texas as oral and anal sexual activity.
"Sodomy laws are discriminatory and it is sad that in this day and age
we are still allowing laws to be on the books that are so blatantly a reproach
to people’s rights. The idea that the law can come into the bedroom of two
consenting adults is frightening," said Jillian Bissar, Student
Government Social Work Representative and Social Work Council Co-president at
Should the resolution be passed, it will be forwarded to Texas lawmakers in
hopes that they hear students’ voices. Once Student Government passes a
resolution it becomes the symbolic opinion of all 52,000 students at
"We hope to send a clear message with AR 20," Apperson added.
"It is not the government’s responsibility to define morality, police
our bedrooms, and brand tens of thousands of Texans criminals. The use of
Section 21.06 to deny equal access to housing, employment, health care, sex
education, adoption and foster care is unacceptable."
Apperson also indicated "we hope that Texas lawmakers consider AR 20
when they reconvene this session, whether or not the U.S. Supreme Court does
indeed overturn the Homosexual Conduct law by June."
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