Last edited: February 14, 2005

Arkansas Court to Hear Argument Against Anti-Gay Sodomy Law

Seven Arkansans Join Together to Challenge Discriminatory Law

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, January 23, 2001
News Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Peg Byron 212-809-8585 x 230, 888-987-1984 (pager)
Susan Sommer 212-809-8585 x 271

NEW YORK — Seven lesbian and gay Arkansas residents soon get to make their case against the state’s same-sex-only sodomy statute, which they argue violates their constitutional rights to equal protection and privacy, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund said Tuesday.

Circuit Court Judge David Bogard will hear motions asking for a final judgment in the case, Picado v. Jegley, at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, January 29. Immediately afterwards, several of the plaintiffs and Lambda Supervising Attorney Susan Sommer will speak to reporters in the courthouse rotunda.

"With this lawsuit, these seven proud and brave individuals are saying that the government should not be peering into Arkansas bedrooms to investigate adult consensual intimacy," Sommer said. "Our plaintiffs are standing up for privacy and equality in their state."

Elena Picado, a teacher and mother, and the other plaintiffs have come forward because they are unfairly singled out as criminals by the law, which applies only to same-sex acts, and because it invades their privacy. They also say that the law is the product of and fuels anti-gay sentiment in Arkansas. They live daily with the threat of prosecution and of other harms the law is used to justify, such as loss of employment, eviction from their homes, and even loss of custody of their children.

In Code Section 5-14-122, Arkansas criminally bans consensual sex, including oral and anal sex, by same-sex couples, with punishment of up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. Arkansas had a similar law that covered all couples until it was repealed in 1975. The legislature turned around in 1977 and enacted the current law to forbid same-sex couples from engaging in the intimate conduct that remains lawful for heterosexual couples.

Lambda filed the case on January 28, 1998; the state repeatedly has fought to have it dismissed. Now, both sides have filed motions for summary judgment, asking the trial court to decide the case on its merits on the basis of briefs and affidavits without the need for a trial.

Ruth Harlow and Sommer are Lambda’s attorneys on the case. David Ivers and Emily Sneddon of the Little Rock firm Mitchell, Blackstock & Barnes are Lambda’s cooperating attorneys. Little Rock solo practitioner Gary Sullivan is of counsel to Lambda on the case, as is former Lambda attorney Suzanne Goldberg.

WHAT: Hearing on cross motions for summary judgment in Picado v. Jegley

WHO: Susan Sommer, Supervising Attorney for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and individual plaintiffs will speak to reporters afterwards in the rotunda

WHERE: Arkansas Circuit Court, Sixth Division, 401 W. Markham, Little Rock

WHEN: Monday, January 29, argument scheduled for 9:00 a.m.

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Link directly to Lambda’s news release:

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
National Headquarters
120 Wall Street, Suite 1500
New York, NY 10005-3904
212-809-8585 phone
212-809-0055 fax

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