Last edited: February 14, 2005

Legislature Likely to Take Up Sodomy Law Again

Houston Chronicle, April 19, 2001
801 Texas Avenue, Houston, TX 77002
Fax: 713-220-6575

By Armando Villafranca

AUSTIN — The Texas Legislature appears poised, once again, to consider a repeal of the state’s century-old sodomy law.

The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee late Wednesday approved a bill that would repeal the law banning homosexual intercourse. The bill now goes to the House Calendars Committee to be scheduled for debate by the full House.

The author of HB 687, state Rep. Debra Danburg, D-Houston, had said she would not ask for debate on her bill unless it was supported by both Republicans and Democrats. Two Republicans did join the five Democrats on the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee to make the vote 7-2 in favor of the bill.

Danburg said it is time for Texas to change its unique and rarely enforced law.

"We’re one of only three states in the nation (with) a specifically homosexual sodomy prohibition," she said. "While it’s only a class C misdemeanor, like a traffic ticket, unlike a traffic ticket it is used as a tool of discrimination."

Two Houston men were charged under the law — which makes sodomy a class C misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $500 — in 1998 and challenged its constitutionality. The 14th Court of Appeals last month turned them down and said the law did not violate constitutional rights of equal protection or privacy.

Danburg said Texas should change its law to avoid further court battles.

This is not the first time Danburg — whose legislative district encompasses much of Houston’s homosexual community — has tried to get the state’s sodomy law repealed. Her attempts in two previous legislative sessions failed to make it out of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.

Gay activists are hopeful this Legislative session will be different than others.

Dianne Hardy-Garcia, executive director of Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, said the climate is different this year in Austin than in the past when the issue evoked emotional debates along moral lines.

She believes Legislators now see the issue as more about equal protection rather than the homosexual life-style.

"It really doesn’t matter whether you approve of homosexuality or not, what really matters is whether you should be treated equally under the law," Hardy-Garcia said.

[Home] [News] [Texas]