Last edited: February 14, 2005

Texas Court Strikes Down Anti-Gay Sodomy Law Supported by Gov. Bush

National Stonewall Democratic Federation
733 15th Street, NW Suite 700A
Washington, DC 20005

For Immediate Release                                              Contact: Michael Colby
June 8, 2000                                                          202-783-8670

                                                                                Contact: Daniel McGlinchey

Washington—Today, the National Stonewall Democratic Federation, the national organization of gay and lesbian Democrats, applauded the ruling of the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals that struck down the state’s anti-gay sodomy law that was strongly supported by Gov. George W. Bush.

In 1998, the Houston police arrested two men for having sex in the privacy of their own home. They were held in jail for over 24 hours before being released on bond. Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund represented the two men in a county criminal court, which refused to dismiss the charges on constitutional ground and found the men guilty as charged. Lambda appealed the case to the 14th Court of Appeals.

Justices on the Courts of Appeals in Texas are elected by voters in the state, and the three justice panel hearing this appeal ruled that the Texas sodomy law "violates the Texas Equal Rights Amendment’s guarantee of equality under the law" by making the same behavior criminal "for some but not for others, based solely on the sex of the individuals who engage in the behavior."

The Texas sodomy law criminalizes private consensual sexual activity between same-sex adult couples. Texas is one of a handful of states that singles out gay people by banning adult sexual intimacy only between people of the same sex. Gov. George W. Bush has publicly supported the sodomy law, calling it a "symbol of traditional values" and said that he would veto any attempt to overturn the law legislatively. The state Republican Party platform also explicitly opposes the decriminalization of sodomy, stating that "the practice of sodomy tears at the fabric of society" and "contributes to the breakdown of the family unit."

Daniel McGlinchey, political director of the National Stonewall Democrats, said, "The fact that private sexual activity only between gay people was a crime in Texas, while identical acts of intimacy between straight people was not, shows that supporters of the law like George W. Bush were specifically using the power of the state to punish people they don’t like, and that’s appalling. We’re glad the Court of Appeals ruled the law unconstitutional. But it’s alarming that the GOP has a presumptive presidential nominee who would empower the government to punish private intimate behavior between consenting gay adults that harms absolutely no one," said McGlinchey.

Michael Milliken, treasurer of the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and a National Stonewall board member noted that when Gov. Bush was recently pressed on the question of whether he would appoint any openly gay officials to his administration, he dodged the question, claiming he wouldn’t ask if someone is gay because "I think someone’s sexual orientation is their private business."

"For Bush to advocate privacy and limited government in one moment," said Milliken, "and in the next support government intrusion into the private consensual sexual activity of gay people is absolutely indefensible."

National Stonewall expressed hope that the national Log Cabin Republicans would hold George W. Bush accountable for such hypocrisy and withhold their support of him so that voters would not be misled. Noting that Bush also recently allowed gay Republicans to be denied an official presence at the Texas Republican state convention, McGlinchey said, "Gov. Bush could have been a real moral leader on these issues, but instead he’s been the opposite. It’s clear that he has no moral bearings on the issue of fairness for gay and lesbian Americans."

National Stonewall stressed that Vice President Al Gore is once again far ahead of Bush. A decade ago, in 1990, Gore voted in the Senate against an amendment offered by Jesse Helms (R-NC) expressing the sense of the Senate that gay people "threaten the survival of the American family" and that "state sodomy laws should be enforced."

"The fact that Gore moved to vote the Helm’s amendment down shows that he, unlike Bush, understands that government exists to help people, not to do them harm," said McGlinchey.


The National Stonewall Democratic Federation is the national organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Democrats, with over 10,000 members and 50 affiliated clubs across the country. NSDF is committed to improving the record of the Democratic Party and educating voters about the vast difference that exists between the two major parties on issues of importance to our communities.

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