Last edited: January 01, 2005

Idaho Gays Welcome High Court Ruling in Texas Case

Associated Press, June 26, 2003

By Dan Gallagher, Associated Press Writer

BOISE, Idaho (AP)—Idaho gays and their supporters celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to strike down a Texas anti-sodomy law.

The ruling goes a long way to doing away with discrimination that has plagued them in this state for years, many said.

But opponents said it could invite laws allowing same-sex marriages.

With its 6-3 decision, the high court overturned the Texas statute, and appeared to sweep away laws in a dozen other states that ban oral and anal sex for homosexuals or homosexuals and heterosexuals.

Idaho, whose anti-sodomy law applies to everyone, is among 13 states where the ruling will have the most impact.

Javier Smith, co-chair with Your Family, Friends & Neighbors, an Idaho group backing gay rights, said the state’s sodomy law has been used to wage war on homosexuals on several fronts in recent years.

“The Legislature has been hiding behind this law,” he said. “This takes away that weapon. There’s no longer gay-bashing with this law.”

The decision came in a case brought by two Texas men arrested in 1998. They were jailed overnight and ordered to pay $200 fines after police, responding to a false complaint of an armed intruder, discovered them having sex in their bedroom.

Deputy Attorney General Michael Henderson said he is not aware of any Idaho cases where the state’s sodomy law has been applied to any consensual acts between adults in private. He added there have been prosecutions involving acts in public and forceable sex.

The law could still apply in those cases, he said.

In addition to Idaho and Texas, the ruling will likely affect Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.

Idaho conservatives tried through Proposition One to ban state and local laws protecting homosexuals from discrimination in 1994. Voters rejected it by less than 1 percent, or 3,073 votes.

Kelly Walton, former head of the Idaho Citizens’ Alliance, which backed Proposition One, said he believes Americans will react angrily to the high court’s ruling.

“I really see a showdown where an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is brewing,” he said. “I see Congress and three-fourths of the states agreeing that marriage should be between one man and one woman, instead of any other arrangement.”

He put Idaho among the states backing the amendment. “I would be leading the charge,” he said. “The silver lining is perhaps middle America will wake up now. The margin has spoken.”

The state sodomy law has cast a pall on the lives of gays and lesbians, Smith said, being used as an excuse for employment discrimination and denying them parental rights.

“This lifts a lot of the fear for the gay community, for people who are open here. Instead of wasting money to fight this, we can start to build our community.”

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