Last edited: February 14, 2005

Texas Sodomy Law Challenge Update

PlanetOut, September 22, 2000

SUMMARY: The full appeals court will review its panel’s ruling that struck down the "deviant homosexual conduct" law, as Republican judge-tampering is investigated.

Texas’ "deviant homosexual conduct" law makes it a Class C misdemeanor for consenting adults of the same gender to engage in oral or anal intercourse even in private, but in a split decision June 8 a three-judge panel of the state’s 14th Court of Appeals struck down the law as a violation of the state constitution’s Equal Rights Amendment because it applies only to gay men and lesbians (see PlanetOut News of June 8). That ruling came in the notorious case of John Lawrence and Tyrone Garner, who in September 1998 were literally arrested in Lawrence’s own bedroom after police received a false report of an intruder on the premises (see PlanetOut News of November 6, 1998). On September 14 attorneys in the case received a brief note advising them that the full bench of the 14th Court of Appeals has agreed to prosecutors’ request that they review the case; it is not known when that opinion will be issued.

There is also a development in connection with an unusual sidebar in the case, in which Harris County Republican Party treasurer Paul Simpson drafted a letter in July threatening to deny campaign support to one of the judges, Justice John Anderson, unless he changed the position he took against the sodomy law. (All the state’s judges are elected.) Simpson never sent that letter to Anderson, although he did share it with Republican leaders in thirteen surrounding counties (see PlanetOut News of July 19). Nevertheless Texas’ Commission on Judicial Affairs has begun an investigation and has subpoenaed Simpson and three others to testify regarding the matter at a hearing September 27.

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