Last edited: December 31, 2004


Lawsuit Challenges Arkansas Sodomy Law

Washington Blade, February 13, 1998

By Lisa Keen

Seven Gay people, including a pastor and a public school teacher with two children, filed suit late last month to challenge the constitutionality of the state law prohibiting sodomy. The lawsuit, filed Jan. 28 in a state district court in Pulaski County where the capital, Little Rock, is located, charges that the law prohibiting sex between same-sex partners violates rights to equal protection and privacy under the state and the U.S. constitutions.

Arkansas is one of only 20 states that still have sodomy laws on the books (though the enforceability of laws in three states is considered dubious). Arkansas and 10 other of those states are in the south; its law and the sodomy laws in only five other states prohibit sodomy only between same-sex couples.

The plaintiffs in the Arkansas challenge, Picado v. Arkansas, include a pastor, a public school counselor, a public school teacher with two children of her own, a computer software writer, an employee of a box company, a registered nurse, and the owner-operator of a bait-and-tackle shop.

The lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, notes that Arkansas’s sodomy law prohibited oral and anal sex for "every" person until 1977, when it was amended to prohibit the acts only between same-sex partners. While the "crime" is considered a misdemeanor, it can be punished with as much as a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

In filing the lawsuit, Lambda held a press conference at the State Capitol Building in Little Rock. The next day, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, a daily newspaper in Little Rock, ran a story saying that the lawsuit sought to "end the stigma for leading an illegal lifestyle...."

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