Tags: Court's | Ruling | Sodomy | Fuels | Fight | for | Same-Sex

Court's Ruling on Sodomy Fuels Fight for Same-Sex Marriage

Friday, 27 June 2003 12:00 AM

Even before the court's 6-3 ruling extended privacy rights to homosexuals, conservatives and pro-family advocates warned that such a decision would lead to an erosion of traditional values. Now, they said, it is even more important to fight back.

"This is a major wake-up call," said the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of Traditional Values Coalition. "This is a 9/11, major wake-up call that the enemy is at our doorsteps."

Sheldon predicted that laws prohibiting same-sex marriage would be one of the first targets, followed by efforts to spread the homosexual message to government schools and force businesses to hire a sexually diverse workforce.

"This decision will open a floodgate," Sheldon said. "This will redirect the stream of what is morally right and what is morally wrong into a deviant kind of behavior. There is no way that homosexuality can be seen other than a social disorder."

For the legal team that convinced the Supreme Court to reverse its 17-year-old decision in Bowers vs. Hardwick, Thursday's ruling was a long-awaited and much-welcomed relief. Homosexuals and their supporters celebrated the ruling at rallies in 35 cities Thursday night.

Among the 13 states with sodomy statutes before Thursday, only four singled out homosexuals, including the now-defunct Texas law. The two men arrested for having sex, John G. Lawrence and Tyron Garner, were caught in the act after a neighbor filed a false report that an armed man was "going crazy" inside Lawrence's apartment. The 1998 incident worked its way to the Supreme Court.

Now that the court has ruled that these sodomy laws are unconstitutional, homosexuals are prepared to eliminate other forms of discrimination, said Ruth Harlow, lead attorney for Lawrence and Garner and legal director at the homosexual advocacy group Lambda Legal.

Harlow said discrimination in marriage laws and by the U.S. military would be two of their targets.

"By knocking out both sodomy laws and the justification of morality, this decision makes it much harder to defend those discriminatory schemes," she said. "The actual answer for those issues will be saved for another day."

Even though the decision was based on the right to privacy and not equal protection under the law, Harlow still called it a resounding victory. She said it "very strongly recognizes gay people's equal humanity" and guarantees homosexuals the equal rights under the Constitution.

While disappointed by the decision, Tom Minnery, vice president of public policy for Focus on the Family, said the fact that the court relied on privacy might be the "silver lining" for conservatives.

"The court based all of its decision on the right of privacy," he said. "It did not find a fundamental right for homosexuals to commit homosexual acts. We feared they would find that, and they did not. It's the same flimsy principle they used to decide abortion is constitutional."

Still, there are threats to traditional family values as a result of the ruling, said Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women for America's Culture & Family Institute.

"Expanding the right of privacy indefinitely will lead to a challenge of marriage," he said. "It will jeopardize all the other sex-based laws, everything pertaining to incest, bigamy and prostitution. There really is no logical stopping point.

"They have given away the premise that a community can govern itself and set up a moral foundation for how people live," he added. "It's really a sweeping and radical decision."

Some conservatives said it was especially disappointing that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, one of President Ronald Reagan's appointees, wrote the decision. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, another Reagan appointee, filed a separate concurring opinion.

"This case today, I think, provides a prime example of the court rewriting the law based on their own understanding of the prevailing winds of cultural fashion rather than actual precedent in the Constitution or the law," said Peter Sprigg, director of Family Research Council's Center for Marriage and Family Studies.

Conservatives pointed to Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent as one of the lone highlights. In it, Scalia warned that the court's reasoning "leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples."

Harlow said Scalia was out of touch with most Americans. People with strong Christian views are outnumbered by a majority of Americans who opposed these sodomy laws, she said.

"They are more and more being pushed to the sidelines," she said. "We don't have any problems with individuals making their own choices and having their own religious views. But in our country, a minority of individuals cannot dictate those views for the whole country."


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Even before the court's 6-3 ruling extended privacy rights to homosexuals, conservatives and pro-family advocates warned that such a decision would lead to an erosion of traditional values. Now, they said, it is even more important to fight back. "This is a major wake-up...
Friday, 27 June 2003 12:00 AM
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