Thursday, September 29, 2011

LGBT Americans Still Targeted by State Sodomy Laws

Photo courtesy of Equality Matters
In the 2003 case of Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court held that sodomy laws which criminalized "private homosexual conduct between consenting adults" were unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment. While this was, indeed, a landmark ruling and a positive step for LGBT rights in America, sodomy laws are still being used to persecute LGBT Americans eight years later. In 2011 eighteen states still have sodomy laws on the books and, as an article from Equality Matters explains, they are far from having fallen out of use. For example, in Michigan LGBT persons are still being charged and convicted under the state's "Abominable and Detestable Crime Against Nature” or“Gross Indecency” laws. Those convicted face a prison sentence of up to fifteen years and must register as sex offenders. Furthermore, LGBT persons face arrest and humiliation due to sodomy laws even when no sexual intercourse takes place. In 2009, a gay couple was kicked out of a restaurant by El Paso police for kissing in public. The officers told the couple that it was illegal for two men to kiss publicly and that they could be cited for "homosexual conduct." Although Texas' sodomy law was explicitly struck down in the aforementioned Supreme Court case, so long as it (and all other sodomy laws) remains on the books, it will be used to target, harass, intimidate and punish LGBT persons simply for being who they are.

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