Last edited: January 04, 2005

Court to Consider Sodomy Law

Focus on the Family, December 3, 2002

By David Brody, Washington, D.C., correspondent

SUMMARY: The Supreme Court has decided to take a case that could resolve whether or not states can punish homosexuals for having sex.

Sodomy is defined as "abnormal sex" and four years ago, Houston, Texas, police officers arrested and jailed two men for engaging in it. Homosexual rights groups say the Texas sodomy law violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection guarantee, and argue that homosexuals are being unfairly targeted.

Yet, Jordan Lorence, with the Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-family legal foundation, said that argument doesn’t hold up.

"Whether a state should criminalize sodomy or not is a decision that clearly the framers of the Constitution left for each state to decide for itself," Lorence said.

In this case, police in 1998 came to a homosexual couple’s home in response to a false report of "an armed man going crazy." Upon entering the home, however, the officers discovered the two men engaging in sex and subsequently arrested them. The two were convicted under the state’s sodomy law and fined $200.

The sodomy law was challenged in the state court system, but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ultimately ruled the law was constitutional. Rebuffed, homosexual activist groups then took the case—Lawrence v. Texas—to the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to convince the Court to strike down state homosexual sodomy laws altogether. The groups argue what they do in private shouldn’t be prosecuted; however, Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council, begs to differ.

"I would argue that when private acts have adverse public consequences, society has a legitimate interest in protecting the public from those consequences," Connor said.

He mentioned the AIDS crisis as a prime example of those public consequences.

The Supreme Court actually took up this issue back in 1986 when it upheld a Georgia law banning homosexual sodomy. But clearly, it seems the high court wants to re-engage in the debate.

Lorence said homosexual activists have a lot to lose if they come up on the losing end of this case.

"They’re really ... betting the farm on this decision and if they lose this decision it’s going to be disastrous for them," he said.

If the justices uphold sodomy laws again, it would be a clear sign from the highest court in the land that homosexual behavior is out of step with mainstream society. Yet, if homosexuals win the case, pro-family experts believe they will use the victory to argue for the legalization of homosexual marriage and gay adoption.

When the Supreme Court takes a case, they overturn the lower court decision two-thirds of the time.

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for March, and a decision is expected sometime next summer.

Right now, 13 states have laws against sodomy, but most of them apply to both heterosexual and homosexual sexual behavior. Only Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas specifically prohibit homosexual sex.

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