Last edited: February 14, 2005

The Failure

Drum Magazine, September 1965
Janus Society of America
34 S. 17th St., Philadelphia, PA 19103

We hear a great deal of meaningless chatter about what can be done to effect changes in sodomy laws throughout America. There is a notion that these changes can somehow come about through picketing, negotiations, letter writing, "information" programs, church councils, ad infinitum.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The sentiment is expressed that support of informed citizens must be incorporated to add weight to the movement. It is suspected that enough of this Doctor and Lawyer Window-dressing will bend recalcitrant Legislatures to a point of reason.

Nothing, again, could be further from the truth.

To date, all efforts of the homophile movement and others concerned with sex law reform have been virtually without meaning to Legislatures and there is no reason to suspect that this state will change in the future, near or distant.

The failure of previous methods has not been a lack of good intentioned leaders or in selecting high quality window dressing, but in setting an impossible goal in an unreasonable fashion. Few elected legislators are willing to risk a brand as one who advocates perversion or, as a member of the British House of Lords just put it, approving "the Devil's work." Further, there is no reason to assume that these bodies could ever be in sympathy with the cause and the Roman Catholic Church has made it clear that it intends to do everything in its vast power to prevent liberal revision.

It must be understood that law reform will not be effectuated through the State Legislatures. Those who doubt the validity of this position need look no further than the re- cent actions in New York and North Carolina.

Our position, however, is far from laissez faire. We see the solution within the Federal Court system, with the Supreme Court as the final voice. The Connecticut birth control decision points the way--invasion of privacy. Clear appreciation of the value of Church-State separation is another.

Many diverse factors determine which cases lend themselves to this kind of battle, but the Janus Society of America is ready to provide financial and legal support to individuals in any State whose cases can help establish these needed precedents.

(By coincidence, the Court of Appeals released its decision in Scott v. Macy as we were going to press. A careful study of this landmark appears on page 26.)

—Clark P. Polak

Drum Magazine was magazine of the Janus Society of America, a Philadelphia homophile organization. In 1965, only Illinois had repealed its sodomy law. The next states to repeal their laws were Connecticut and Idaho as part of broad criminal code revisions. Idaho reinstated their law as soon as the Advocate announced the repeal of the sodomy law. 20 additional states repealed their laws before the first state courts—Pennsylvania and New York—struck down their laws in 1980. 

The primary repeal strategy at the turn of the century is to bring cases to state courts to rule the laws unconstitutional. 

—Bob Summersgill

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