Freedom Activists Target ‘Archaic, Unjust’ Sex Laws
June 1, 2004
By Susan Jones, CNSNews.com Morning Editor
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force says it is time
to repeal America’s “archaic and unjust” sex laws.
The Task Force announced it is taking part in a project
to analyze sex laws throughout the United States and identify which ones need
The point is to “educate Americans about the prevalence
and abuse of antiquated and unjust sex laws in the nation, and to give
grassroots activists policy and organizing tools to work to change these
laws,” the Task Force said in a press release.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said it is
conducting the study of sex laws with help from the Woodhull Freedom
Foundation, which describes itself as “a core group of experienced
activists” dedicated to “advancing the cause of freedom in the fields of
sexuality, civil rights and gender.”
According to its website, “The Woodhull Freedom
Foundation brings together experienced, successful sexual freedom activists”
who seek to eliminate governmental and private barriers “to expressions of
human sexuality in the United States and around the world.”
“This project will be a significant step toward
eliminating unjust laws that are used almost exclusively for the purpose of
persecuting minorities,” said Dr. Mary Frances Berry, chair of the U.S.
Commission on Civil Rights and a Woodhull Freedom Foundation board member.
“Most Americans are unaware of the sex laws in this
country and how those laws are used to selectively persecute individuals
simply for their private and consensual sexual expression,” Berry said.
“We believe that once people are educated on these issues, they will demand
Organizers said the project will address laws such as the
one in Michigan prohibiting unmarried people from having sex and living
together; and one in Kansas, where the age of consent is different for males
In addition, the project will examine laws against public
lewdness, “which are routinely misused to persecute and prosecute people who
participate in non-traditional forms of sexual expression.”
“I’ve seen firsthand how the misuse of these [public
lewdness] laws has ruined the lives of gay and bisexual men,” said Matt
Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
“Few victims of this abuse ever come forward for fear
of further embarrassment and the system counts on this silence. We intend to
shine some light on these shameful practices.”
The project will have two phases, organizers said. The
first phase involves a study of the laws and how they have been “selectively
used to target minorities.” Those findings will be released at the National
Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s 17th annual conference in St. Louis in
The second phase will include policy analysis,
recommendations, and strategies for grassroots activists to use in overturning
the laws or changing the way in which they are enforced, the press release
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