Last edited: February 14, 2005

Sodomy Laws Set Needed Standards

Knight Ridder / Tribune News Service, December 4, 1998

By Steven A. Schwalm

The sodomy laws in both Texas and Georgia are under assault by homosexual activists, who have successfully lobbied for years to have such laws struck down by courts in state after state. Homosexuals attack the laws as "discriminatory" and as a violation of privacy. In fact, the consequences for states that have removed sodomy statutes have been far harsher than anything meted out by law.

Even when rarely enforced — activists and attorneys in the Texas case cannot cite any other instance of consenting adults being prosecuted for sexual conduct in a residence — sodomy laws set standards of public conduct, and keep a lid on conduct that is a public health issue. Furthermore, they help to safeguard the legal and moral status of the family in our society.

In his book "And the Band Played On," homosexual activist Randy Shilts quotes Dan William, a doctor with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, about the effects of the removal of sodomy laws: "One effect of gay liberation is that sex has been institutionalized and franchised. Twenty years ago, there may have been a thousand men on any one night having sex in New York baths or parks. Now there are 10- or 20,000 — at the baths, the back-room bars, bookstores, porno theaters, the Rambles, and a wide range of other places as well."

Public acceptance of sodomy has immense public health implications. The result of abandoning legal and social restraints against sodomy has been an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases causing 40,000 to 50,000 tragic early deaths annually, not to mention federal AIDS spending in the $9 billion range per year -- and climbing. If this doesn’t qualify as a public policy concern, nothing does.

The Georgia ruling actually offers a textbook example of just why sodomy laws should be kept in place. The Georgia Supreme Court voted 6-1 to strike down the state’s sodomy law in a case involving a man who was found guilty of sodomizing his 17-year-old niece — and homosexual groups hailed the decision as a victory. Anthony Powell was acquitted of raping his niece in 1996 after his lawyers argued that the sex was consensual, but he was convicted of sodomizing her. Under the recent decision, all aspects of Mr. Powell’s conduct are legally acceptable in Georgia.

The court ruled that the sodomy law violates the state constitution’s grant of a right to privacy. In the lone dissent, Justice George H. Carley wrote that the majority had "usurped the legislative authority of the General Assembly."

The decision struck down the very law upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick decision, which stated that there is no constitutional right to engage in sodomy. Atlanta bartender Michael Hardwick, who challenged the law, died of AIDS in 1991.

David Smith of the homosexual political group Human Rights Campaign called the Georgia court’s decision "a symbolic victory," and added that the ruling "will hopefully be a precursor to the U.S. Supreme Court invalidating all the nation’s sodomy laws." (Appearing on the America’s Voice television network earlier in the year, Smith had denied that being "gay" is about homosexual sex.)

Activists’ next target is the sodomy law in Texas, where sheriff’s deputies arrested two men for sodomy under circumstances both rare and strange. Responding to a report of an armed intruder, the deputies entered an unlocked apartment to find two homosexuals engaged in their defining practice. Both the District Attorney, John B. Holmes Jr., and homosexual activists are looking at the case as an opportunity to dump the state’s law. "I’ve always said that the best way to get rid of a bad law is to enforce it," said Holmes, who will be prosecuting the case.

The neighbor who called the police has pleaded no contest to filing a false report, but has offered no explanation of why he placed the call. Even more curious, the arrest that precipitated the sodomy challenge in Houston occurred soon after the ACLU tried to intervene in a Texas custody case that hinges on the sodomy law. The Liberty Legal Institute, which is defending a Texas social worker who removed a child from an openly lesbian household, argued that "the state should not knowingly place children in homes where they know there is ongoing criminal sexual activity." The ACLU wanted to strike the sodomy law to allow open homosexuals to acquire children.

Sodomy laws on the books have never created "sex police" in private bedrooms. Typically they have been used to keep homosexual curricula out of schools; to prevent homosexuals from acquiring children; to curb public sex; and to limit the practice of "semi-public" sex, such as occurs in bars, booths in bookstores and bathhouses. In such cases, arrests can’t necessarily be made under other laws, such as public indecency statutes. Establishments that entertain an anonymous sex clientele certainly affect public interests, such as the character of towns and neighborhoods.

Legalizing sodomy would normalize it and encourage it. It would endanger not only the physical health but also the moral health of our nation. It would erode the legal basis to withhold full marital status to homosexual couples, to prevent harmful sex practices being taught in schools, and to give homosexuals the "right" to raise children.

Abandoning laws and taboos against fornication, adultery and divorce has already greatly weakened the social and legal foundation of the family as an institution. Legalizing sodomy would only further undermine the special status of the family, and, consequently, would further erode the bedrock institution of society.

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