Last edited: February 12, 2005

70% of Americans Favor Overturning Texas Sodomy Law, May 6, 2003

By Paul Johnson, Washington Bureau Chief

Washington, D.C.—A new poll shows the majority of Americans believe the government does not belong in the bedrooms of gays and lesbians.

Seventy-four percent of American adults said the U.S. Supreme Court should overturn state laws that criminalize private, consenting sexual relations between same-sex couples.

The survey, released today, was conducted by Harris Interactive for Witeck-Combs Communications

The Harris poll also reveals that nearly nine out of 10 Americans (87%) oppose state laws regulating private, sexual relations that are applied to opposite-sex married adult couples and almost as many (82%) oppose such laws that are applied to same-sex adult couples in a domestic partnership.

“Even when we exclude respondents who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, support for overturning state sodomy laws does not change significantly,” said Darin Johnson, vice president at Witeck-Combs Communications.

“It is clear that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe the Supreme Court should overturn all state laws that interfere with private sexual relations between consenting adults, whether same-sex or opposite-sex couples.”

The nationwide survey questioned more than 2,000 adults, of whom approximately seven percent self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT). The survey was conducted online between April 17 and 23, 2003 by Harris Interactive but prior to the prominent media attention given to Senator Rick Santorum’s (R-PA) interview last month with the Associated Press in which he compared homosexuality with incest, polygamy and adultery. (story)

“These numbers tell the same story we’ve been telling courts in this country for years: the vast majority of Americans support the right to privacy of all people, including gays and lesbians, and oppose anti-gay discrimination,” said Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the national gay rights organization bringing the Supreme Court challenge to consensual sex laws.

The survey also found that “75% of self-described Republicans oppose state laws that regulate sexual relations that occur in the private home of an adult same-sex couple in a domestic partnership (as do 88% of self-labeled Democrats). In addition, seven out of 10 Americans (70%) who characterize their personal ideology as “conservative” also oppose such laws.

On March 26, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments testing the Texas same-sex sodomy statute. This case, Lawrence v. Texas, will examine the constitutionality of Texas law (and other similar state laws) that imposes criminal charges on same-sex couples who have consenting sexual relations in the privacy of their home.

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