Last edited: February 14, 2005

Judge Hears Case Against Arkansas Sodomy Law

PlanetOut, February 1, 2001

A judge in Pulaski County, Ark., circuit court on Monday heard arguments against the state’s sodomy law, The [Memphis] Commercial Appeal reports. Defending the 1973 law, which makes sex between two adults of the same sex punishable by up to one year in prison, Arkansas assistant attorney general Timothy Gauger said the state has the right to "express the moral indignation of its citizens." Gauger added, "You could say the whole of criminal law is based on morality." Susan Sommer, an attorney for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund who is representing the seven plaintiffs in the case, told Judge David B. Bogard that "the government makes no other attempt [to justify the law] other than to say public morality condemns the action." Although police have not made a practice of enforcing the law, Sommer told the judge that it is used to criminalize people in such matters as adoption and custody hearings. Bogard, who said he hopes to have a decision in a few weeks, asked both sides questions about the points made. "You say, ‘Well, we think it’s immoral, so we’re not going to let you do it,’" he said to Gauger. "The problem is that with most other laws based on morality, you can find some discernible harm. I really have trouble finding some reasonable harm here."

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