Last edited: January 02, 2005

Court Invalidates Kansas Law; Reaction Mixed

Topeka Capital-Journal, June 26, 2003
616 SE Jefferson Street, Topeka, KS 66607
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By Cait Purinton, The Capital-Journal

Gay, lesbian and transgender activists in Kansas are celebrating a decision made today by the U.S. Supreme Court that reverses legal bans on homosexual sex.

The 6-3 vote nullifies laws in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri that prohibit oral and anal sex between same-sex couples.

“The decision announced by the Supreme Court of the United States today renders Kansas adult homosexual sodomy law unenforceable and unconstitutional,” said Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline. “Accordingly, we are providing notice to counties and district attorneys and other law enforcement officials of the nature of the Supreme Court decision and its effect on this little-used Kansas law.”

Christine Robinson, former University of Kansas women’s studies instructor who sought to overturn Kansas’ sodomy law, said the change gives activists more legal standing to amend other laws concerning gays, lesbians and transgender people.

“This essentially invalidates the part of Kansas’ criminal sodomy law that criminalizes private, adult, consenting sexual activity between members of the same sex,” she said. “It’s a huge victory in that sense.”

Pedro Irigonegaray, a longtime Topeka attorney who also has lobbied against the state’s sodomy law, said the decision is a signal “that equality under the law applies to all citizens regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Irigonegaray hoped the Supreme Court’s decision will accelerate movement in Topeka toward the passage of an anti-discrimination ordinance aimed at protecting homosexuals. Last fall, the Topeka City Council denied passage of such an ordinance.

“Sexual orientation is not a reason for discrimination as a matter of law,” Irigonegaray said. “I’ve been saying that for a long time. Now it’s not me saying it. Now it’s the Supreme Court of the United States saying it.”

Not everyone is celebrating. Fred Phelps, pastor of Westboro Baptist Church and an anti-gay activist, said the decision marks a monumental day in history.

“It’s a harbinger of doom. It’s the death knell of American civilization,” he said. “It’s a covenant with death and an agreement with Hell.”

He said if states can’t prohibit homosexual sex, laws against incest and bigamy can’t be enforced because those acts also may occur between consenting adults.

“This Supreme Court now says that the constitution of the United States forbids states to declare, by their laws, that the sin of sodomy is a crime,” Phelps said. “Therefore this constitution now justifies and promotes this abominable and detestable crime against nature.”

He said today’s ruling opens the door for same-sex marriages.

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