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 Mens 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
doesnt 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 states 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. Powells conduct are legally acceptable in Georgia.
The court ruled that the sodomy law violates the state constitutions 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
courts decision "a symbolic victory," and added that the ruling "will
hopefully be a precursor to the U.S. Supreme Court invalidating all the nations
sodomy laws." (Appearing on the Americas 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 sheriffs 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
states law. "Ive 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 cant 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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