Last edited: February 14, 2005

Arkansas Challenge to Sodomy Statute Advances

The Data Lounge, December 11, 2000

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A lawsuit brought by seven Arkansas lesbian and gay citizens to invalidate the state sodomy law has been set for a summary judgment in January.

The law, which is a Class A misdemeanor with a potential punishment of up to one year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine, pertains only to sexual activity between people of the same sex.

A summary judgment allows a judge to rule on the legal filings without a formal trial, therefore bringing an expeditious conclusion to the case. Either side, however, can still appeal the decision.

The plaintiffs say their rights to equal protection guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the state constitution and their rights to privacy are being violated.

Ruth E. Harlow, an attorney with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, is representing the plaintiffs. She said the judge involved has a reputation for being fair and open-minded. "We hope he brings those qualities to bear when he decides this motion," she said.

Harlow said the use of a summary judgment is a common way to proceed in such cases. "Many of our cases use the summary judgment when the issue is a question of law and not a question of fact," she said. "The judge is going to make up his mind about the important question of law the case poses."

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