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Obsolete Anti-Sodomy Laws: The Eyesore Of The Justice System

Sarah Collins |
April 24, 2014 | 10:50 a.m. PDT


The majority of states with anti-sodomy laws have refused to repeal. (Bilerico Project, Wikimedia Commons)
The majority of states with anti-sodomy laws have refused to repeal. (Bilerico Project, Wikimedia Commons)
In the 2003 case Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to prohibit consensual sex between adults. The case was momentous for the gay rights movement, as people of any sexual orientation could now, supposedly, make love freely. Justice Antonin Scalia accurately predicted that the case would eventually call into question the barring of marriage to same-sex couples.

Scalia said prohibiting consensual sex between adults violates the Due Process Clause decreeing that no “State [shall] deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

However, the majority of states with anti-sodomy laws have refused to repeal. Even though seventeen states currently allow same-sex marriage, and states are continuing to legalize non-heterosexual matrimony, underlying legal issues still prevent true sexual equality from coming to fruition.   

Fourteen states had anti-sodomy laws before the court case ruling in 2003, and only Montana and Virginia have since repealed these laws. Even Texas, the state for which the case was ruled, still holds its anti-sodomy law in place. Are religious advocates so adamant about their marriage ideas that they’re willing to go against the Constitution, a kind of quid pro quo national holy document, just to bar others from making love? I find it no coincidence that the governors of all these states are Republicans, as keeping sex and marriage “sacred” is one of the Party’s main platforms. 

However, if the G.O.P. wants to maintain any kind of dominant power, it needs to keep up with the times. A recent Pew Poll shows that 61 percent of Republicans under 30 years old support same-sex marriage compared to 77 percent of Democrats under 30. The fact of the matter is, people are statistically likely to know someone close to them of a different sexual orientation, and younger people, especially, see that there are no differences in love between straight or those of the LGBTQ community. 

Even significant figures within the older demographic of the Republican Party are beginning to change their minds, leaving some hope for the future of conservatives. Charles Cooper, who defended California’s Prop 8 in front of the Supreme Court, states in Jo Becker's upcoming book, Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality, “My views evolve on issues of this kind the same way as other people’s do,” as he is planning a wedding for his lesbian daughter. To me, the fact that he even uses the word “evolve”— a synonym for “progress”— in his statement shows that even people of the most conservative values can understand that being for same-sex marriage is being on the right side of history. Whether they agree with it or not, it is, simply, a basic right to love whom one pleases. 

So, sorry to Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah, the twelve states that still have anti-sodomy laws, but it looks like we are expected to have same-sex marriage legalized nationwide as early as 2015. And, according to expert Nancy F. Cott’s testimony in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case regarding California’s Prop 8, marriage is a social institution that “encompasses a socially approved sexual union,” which, now largely including same-sex marriage, leaves the already unconstitutional anti-sodomy laws even more null and void.


Reach Contributor Sarah Collins here.



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