Last edited: December 31, 2004

Arkansas Sodomy Challenge to Proceed

UPI, June 23, 1998

NEW YORK--A gay and lesbian advocacy group says an Arkansas judge has ruled that a lawsuit against the state's same-sex sodomy law may proceed.

The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York said today Chancery Court Judge Collins Kilgore of Pulaski County, Ark., rejected arguments by the state that the law imposes no real injury on the seven lesbian and gay plaintiffs.

Kilgore said in his written opinion that, "This court finds that plaintiffs have standing (to sue) where the challenged act affects conduct so intimate and private."

Lambda managing attorney Ruth Harlow said the civil rights group was heartened by the ruling.

She said: "The defendant state officials did not succeed in blocking the courthouse door to lesbian and gay Arkansans. As the judge recognized, our clients deserved a hearing on the substance of their serious constitutional claims against the law."

The Arkansas law prohibits oral and anal sex between two adults of the same sex. The seven plaintiffs argued that since the law does not apply to heterosexuals, it made them second class citizens in violation of equal protection guarantees under the constitution. They also maintain that the law violates the right to privacy.

Lambda, which is representing the plaintiffs, says it recently helped overturn similar laws in Montana, Tennessee and Kentucky.

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