Last edited: January 03, 2005

Supreme Court Should Reject Anti-Gay Laws

Florida Today, March 11, 2003
Box 419000, Melbourne, FL 32941
Fax: 407-242-6620

Laws banning sex between consenting homosexual adults remain on the books in four states, but the U.S. Supreme Court may strike them down when it considers a challenge to Texas sodomy laws later this month.

Such laws go largely unenforced, partly because enforcement is next to impossible, but also partly because they no longer reflect the beliefs of many Americans.

In a 1986 Georgia case, however, the Supreme Court ruled that states could still penalize gays for engaging in private sex acts. Gay rights’ activists are optimistic the court’s willingness to reconsider the subject means times have changed.

We hope the court will recognize that sodomy laws are unconstitutional violations of federally protected rights to privacy and freedom from discrimination.

Striking them down is the right decision, not only because the federal government shouldn’t tell consenting adults what they can or can’t do in the bedroom, but more importantly because it would represent a landmark ruling on gay rights.

“Sodomy laws have been used to deny gays all sorts of rights, including adoption and workplace rights,” says Lorri L. Jean, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Their removal, according to Jean, would mean an end to the treatment of gays as criminals solely because of who they are. It would also establish a broad precedent in the battle for equitable treatment of gays in the United States, especially in the area of adoption.

And Florida, as the only state that bans adoptions by all gays, is on the front lines of that battle.

The state received intense media attention last year when entertainer Rosie O’Donnell found that because of her sexual orientation she was unable to adopt a foster child here.

Mississippi and Utah ban adoption by same-sex couples, but allow individual homosexuals to adopt, and many states don’t allow what’s called second-parent adoption in which gays formally adopt the children of their partners.

Such laws are not only discriminatory, but harmful to children, particularly the more than 3,400 now in state custody in Florida and in need of permanent adoptive homes.

Bans on second-parent adoptions also ignore the best interests of children involved, who do best in the more secure atmosphere two legal parents can provide.

The American Association of Pediatrics backed that belief in a 2002 policy statement supporting legal recognition of second parents in same-sex couples.

If the Supreme Court strikes down sodomy laws in Texas, as it should, the next domino to fall may be laws banning adoptions by responsible, caring homosexual couples. That’s what needs to happen for children of gay foster parents and for a more just society for us all.

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