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This Week In History: Lawrence vs. Texas

Jim Burroway

June 23rd, 2008

It’s been only five years since the United States Supreme Court struck down anti-sodomy laws with its 6-3 ruling in Lawrence vs. Texas. Writing for the majority, Anthony Kennedy said, “the intimate, adult consensual conduct at issue here was part of the liberty protected by the substantive component of the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process protections.” Sandra Day O’Connor wrote a separate concurring opinion, but she based her arguments on equal protection instead of due process. Dissenting were Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, and Clarence Thomas.

Update: The actual date when the decision was released was June 26, 2003. When I wrote this, I meant to post date it so it wouldn’t show up until Thursday, which is the actual anniversary. I typically write these history things several days in advance. But given that this is a Monday and all, well … TA-DAH!

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K
June 23rd, 2008 | LINK

Uh, you’re jumping the gun a bit: The ruling came down on June 26th.

But it’s still important to remind people that, only five years ago, about a quarter of the states said we were felons.

And it’s probably also important to mention that these CAN (crimes against nature) statutes remain on the books in those states. It’s unlikely any state legislatures will go through the motions of repealing those obsolete laws any time soon, given that damn few state legislators in Alabama and Virginia and other backwards states wants to be associated with anything as “gay-friendly” as tidying up law books to erase unenforceable laws.

Sigh …

AlexM
June 23rd, 2008 | LINK

Not only that, K, but it’s also important to remind people that, since the CAN laws ARE on the books in those backwards states, people can still be arrested because of those laws even if the judge will be forced to throw those charges out. My memory is failing me at the moment, so somebody else will have to link to that somewhat recent news story involving such a situation.

Timothy Kincaid
June 23rd, 2008 | LINK

Alex M

The arrest occurred last month in North Carolina. The charges were dismissed but the men still had to pay bail costs and spent the night in jail.

K

Now it’s my turn to stretch memories. In one of the 14 states that had their laws overturned by Lawrence, a legislator decided to clean up the books and, as a part of other legislation, included provisions that removed their sodomy laws. No one noticed and the legislation passed.

When it was discovered, it was a very big deal and anti-gays declared that they would ruin him for it. I seem to think that he was a Republican and not particularly pro-gay, but just didn’t want unenforceable laws on the books.

Can anyone provide more info? (It’s possible that I’ve gotten some of the details wrong).

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