Last edited: December 05, 2004

Alabama Gay Group Praises Court Ruling on Sodomy Law

Associated Press, June 26, 2003

By Jay Reeves

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Gays say life will be easier for them in Alabama now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a Texas ban on sodomy, a decision that shelved a similar law in Alabama to the dismay of some conservatives.

The ruling on Thursday was greeted with rejoicing among the state’s homosexuals, who hailed it as a turning point that would help establish full civil rights for homosexuals.

“What it means is no one can use our lifestyle as a reason to discriminate against us,” said Marshall Johnson, state coordinator of the Human Rights Campaign.

Conservatives feared the decision would lead to an erosion of morals and a new move to legalize same-sex marriage.

“God have mercy on America,” said John Giles, president of the Christian Coalition of Alabama.

The Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision struck down a ban on gay sex in Texas, ruling the law was an unconstitutional violation of privacy.

Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, who wrote a brief supporting the Texas law, issued a brief statement saying the ruling was a “new interpretation of the Constitution.”

Pryor said the decision meant Alabama’s law, “which prohibits consensual sodomy between unmarried persons, is now unenforceable.”

An Alabama gay rights leader said the ruling would help Alabama homosexuals by eliminating the stigma that their most common sexual practices are illegal.

Ken Baker, co-director of the 1,000-member Equality Alabama, a statewide gay rights organization, said Alabama’s anti-sodomy law often is used as a tool to deny homosexuals custody of their children in divorce cases.

Under the law, a gay mother or father can be accused of crimes for what they do behind closed doors in the bedroom. “I’ve had calls from three women in the past week who are in custody cases,” said Baker, of Montgomery.

In a highly publicized case last year, Chief Justice Roy Moore cited the Alabama law and what he called the “inherent evil” of homosexuality in upholding a lower court that refused to grant a lesbian custody of her three children.

Landlords also can use the law as a pretext to evict gays, Baker said, and employers can cite it as a reason to fire workers who are discovered to be homosexual.

“It’s held over us,” said Baker. “After today, it won’t be as easy.”

A federal lawsuit was filed last year on behalf of two gay men and two lesbians challenging Alabama’s sexual misconduct law as unconstitutional, but a judge threw out the case.

David Gespass, the attorney who filed the suit, said that decision was being appealed, but the Supreme Court ruling may make the issue moot.

State Rep. Alvin Holmes said he would introduce a bill to repeal the law during the special legislative session scheduled for September.

“As long as there are two consenting adults in the privacy of their home the state shouldn’t get in their business,” said Holmes, D-Montgomery.

[Home] [News] [Lawrence v. Texas]