Last edited: July 17, 2004

Gay Rights Group Challenges State Sodomy Law

Associated Press, March 19, 2003

COLUMBIA, S.C.Ed Madden says he’s a felon under South Carolina sex laws even though he’s been with the same man for eight years. But he hopes a U.S. Supreme Court case will change that.

Madden, an associate English professor at the University of South Carolina, said he breaks the state’s sodomy law that applies to both same-sex and different-sex partners.

“It’s disheartening,” he said. “Under state law, I’m a habitual felon because of the buggery law. That’s not how I imagine myself at all.”

The national gay rights advocacy organization Lambda Legal is trying to eliminate the laws criminalize certain sex acts in nine states. Four other statesTexas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahomahave laws that only apply to gays and lesbians.

The organization’s Southern Regional Director Hector Vargas says the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court case that challenges state sodomy laws will affect South Carolinians. The justices will hear the case on March 26.

“If the court addresses the privacy issue that we’ve asked them to-that there is a right to privacy for adult, consensual, sexual intimacythen what would happen in South Carolina is that the buggery law would be unenforceable,” Vargas said.

University of South Carolina law professor Eldon Wedlock says the current state law “opens people to make arguments based on the fact that a your love life is criminal conduct.”

“Because it’s not used very much, nobody seems to care about it,” Wedlock said. “But it’s like a ticking time bomb-you never know when it’s going off in your life if you’re gay.”

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