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DECRIMINALIZING SAME-SEX BEHAVIOR: PART 5

Reactions to the Lawrence v. Texas ruling by groups and individuals

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The Supreme Court ruling & its implications are described in a separate essay

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Reactions to the court decision by groups and individuals:

bulletRichard Lazarus, professor of law at Georgetown University, said: "For the gay community, Lawrence is their Brown v. Board of Education, their major civil rights case."1
bulletRobert Knight, a spokesman for the conservative Culture and Family Institute, said that the ruling would have "very real consequences"  He warned that it would undermine the legal foundation of marriage, lead to more deaths among gay men from sexually transmitted diseases and lead to schoolchildren being taught "that homosexual sodomy is he same as marital sex....This is social engineering by a court. It will have very bad effects on the idea of our republican form of government. If a government like Texas cannot legislate on public health, safety and morals, what can it legislate about?" 2
bulletPaula Ettelbrick, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said: "The court has put gay people in the mainstream of society for the first time. The court understands gay sexuality is not just about sex, it is about intimacy and relationships. Now there is a real respect for our relationships, as us almost as families, that is not seedy or marginal but very much a part of society." 3
bulletThe Rev. Rob Schenck, co-founder of the conservative Christian National Clergy Council, called it "a lamentable outcome....The court has said today that morality -- matters of right and wrong behavior -- do not matter in the law. That is an undermining of our concept of justice in this country" 2
bulletKate Kendall, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights said: "This is historic. There is not a gay person in this country who has not lived their entire life under the yoke of these laws existing somewhere.... It absolutely signals an entirely changed landscape. It’s impossible to be considered a full and equal citizen if you’re a criminal in 13 states." She described the decision as marking "a cultural change as much as a legal change." 4
bulletRon Crews, President of the Massachusetts Family Institute wrote: "This case is about far more than the act of sodomy. Something that was previously considered wrong, has now been labeled as 'right.' Now, we must ask, 'What's next?'  The simple truth is that the sanctity of marriage is under attack.  Is polygamy next to be overturned or will laws that ban sex between adults and minors be next to go?  One thing is for certain; all laws based on a moral foundation are in danger.  In a rush to separate what is private from what is public, these justices have overlooked the fact that private sexual acts have public consequences. Now, any state that attempts to legislate in defense of public morals and for that matter, public health, will face a massive hurdle...The Court's decision indicates that homosexuality and its associated practices have achieved legitimacy under the law although sodomy, for example, has not achieved the same status in the minds of most Americans....My hope is that this will be the last straw for most Americans.  The majority of Americans still believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman.  Hopefully, this court decision will motivate an outcry from these citizens...The most likely next direction will be to continue this legitimization of homosexuality through making same-sex marriages legal.  I'm afraid the Court simply does not recognize the ramifications of this decision.  Vital institutions like the two-parent home and the traditional family, documented to be far and above the best for rearing children, are now threatened more than ever.  Forward thinking and solid social science data should have prevented this decision." 5
bulletCathy Renna, a spokeswoman for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, called the decision "a tremendous sea change....I think it sends a strong message that gay and lesbian people should enjoy their full civil rights." 4
bulletJohn Giles of the Christian Coalition of Alabama suggested that the decision will add momentum to the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in the U.S. He said: "God have mercy on America." 6
bulletCharles Francis, founder of the Republican Unity Coalition, a group which supports equality for homosexuals, and which tries to defuse the issue within the party said: "I hope the giant middle of our party can look at this decision not as a threat but as a breakthrough for human understanding." 7 In another interview, he said: "Given previous rulings, it’s extraordinary and it's inspiring that the court ruled that gays and lesbians be treated the same as their straight brothers and sisters, no better and no worse...Today’s ruling is not a victory for gays nearly so much as a victory for the four words carved in stone on the court house: 'Equal Justice Under Law'." 4
bulletJay A. Sekulow legal director of the fundamentalist Christian American Center for Law and Justice, said: "This has not been a good week for social conservatives. Both the affirmative action and the gay rights decision reflect a political approach to the law that we deplore. But we all were especially surprised by the scope and breadth of today's opinion. It was a grand-slam homer for the other side." 7
bulletWinnie Stachelberg of the gay-positive Human Rights Campaign said: "This is about gays and lesbians being part of the American fabric, this American nation." 6
bulletRev. Jerry Falwell, a well-known Fundamentalist pastor, said that "this is probably as bad a day as the court has had on social issues since Roe v. Wade. [The court had put] the right of privacy ahead of respect for community standards of morality which have prevailed for many years." He suggested that the ruling could eventually lead to the approval of bestiality, prostitution and the use of narcotics. He said: "It's a capitulation to the gay and lesbian agenda whose ultimate goal is the legalization of same-sex marriages." 7
bulletRandall K. Ellis, executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, said: "The decision is a clear indication that our Texas politicians in 2003 are out of sync with the rest of America. Yesterday the relationship that I had with my boyfriend was illegal. Today it is legal, and this is one step in full equality for all Texans and for all Americans." 3
bulletGary Bauer, president of the conservative Christian group American Values, said, "Once again, an activist Supreme Court has substituted its judgment over the decisions of the citizens of Texas, who, through their elected representatives, had made a moral and legal judgment about behavior." 7
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Bernadette Brooten, professor of Christian studies at Brandeis University,said: "Although this is not a church-state issue in the narrowest sense, it is a victory for the separation of church and state. The court has moved beyond a Christian shaping of laws concerning sexuality." 8

bulletKen Connor, president of the Family Research Council, called the court "classic judicial activism arrogance....This opens the door to bigamy, adult incest, polygamy and prostitution. If the hallmark is privacy and consent, as long as you have those two, the court is saying you have no basis for legislating to the contrary. Notwithstanding the public health issues involved when you have sexual relations, for example, between a mother and an adult son."
bulletTwo members of the Board of Directors of the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) responded to the court ruling. One said: "As a lawyer and a Reconciling United Methodist, I was quite moved by the leadership Justice Kennedy demonstrated not only in his conclusions, but in his poignant language.  I would like to suggest that we encourage our friends and colleagues to write Justice Kennedy a personal letter thanking him for his courage and leadership.  A good friend of mine who knows him personally told me that after the Colorado opinion several years ago, he received more hate mail than he had on any other case.  And unfortunately, he did not receive much mail from those of us who supported his opinion in that case." Another RMN Board member states: "It's always nice to catch someone doing something right." The RMN mission statement reads: "Reconciling Ministries Network is a national grassroots organization that exists to enable full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the United Methodist Church, both in policy and practice." 9
bulletTom Minnery, Vice President of Public Policy of the fundamentalist Christian group, Focus on the Family , released a statement on the court decision. He wrote: "With today's decision the court continues pillaging its way through the moral norms of our country. If the people have no right to regulate sexuality then ultimately the institution of marriage is in peril, and with it, the welfare of the coming generations of children. While it may feel good to some that a stigma is lifted from a particular group, something else has been lifted - the boundaries that prevent sexual chaos in our culture. In recent years we have seen a sharp rise in unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and heartbreak of every kind. By unlocking one of society's last social seatbelts, the court has guaranteed only one thing - more fatal collisions lie just down the road." 10
bulletGays, lesbians and their supporters celebrated the court ruling in 35 cities during the evening of JUN-26. 11
bulletRev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairperson of the Traditional Values Coalition said: "This is a 9/11, major wake-up call that the enemy is at our doorsteps....This decision will open a floodgate. 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." 11
bulletIn another interview, Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights said: "I feel like I have been walking six inches off the ground. The arsenal used against us, with sodomy laws being the foremost weapon, has been neutralized." 3
bulletRobert Knight, director of Concerned Women for America's Culture & Family Institute said: "Expanding the right of privacy indefinitely will lead to a challenge of marriage. 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. It's really a sweeping and radical decision." 11
bulletKevin Cathcart Executive Director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, said that the court ruling "begins an entirely new chapter" in the campaign for gay rights. He said: "This historic civil rights ruling promises real equality to gay people in our relationships, our families and our everyday lives." 12
bulletPeter Sprigg, director of the Family Research Council's Center for Marriage and Family Studies said: "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."
bullet

Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Seminary, a conservative Christian educational facility, said: "I do not oppose sexual freedom for homosexuals, but I worry about the slippery slope [created by the decision]. If this were simply a decision that said we are going to strike from the books all state laws that prohibit genital intimacy between persons of the same sex, then we wouldn't be deeply frightened or offended by that. But this seems to be not the last item on the agenda of a movement that wants to undermine traditional notions of family....Having abandoned the notion that the state has an interest in strong marriages, what that leaves us is anything goes, as long as it's consensual." He suggests that conservative Christians should "focus not on overturning the decision, but on defending the traditional definition of marriage as a healthy foundation." 3

bullet

Ronald J. Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action, said. "I'm certain the gay lobby will use this to push for homosexual marriage; we need to say no...I do not think we should use the force of the law to punish people who engage in homosexual sex. This may be a good time to put more energy into the Federal Marriage Amendment—not because we think this decision is wrong, but because other people will use it in a way that is not wholly logical." 2

bullet

Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship said: "If the Court is logical and consistent—and thank God they often aren't—then it's only a matter of time before the taboos and legal prohibitions against incest, polygamy, and bestiality fall...Of course the [anti-sodomy] law discriminates. It's supposed to. It's supposed to discriminate between good and bad; what is sound public policy and what is not, what is good for the common weal. That's what legislation does."

bullet

Glen Lavy of the conservative Christian Alliance Defense Fund said: "It's hypocritical if we focus only on homosexual behavior. Before God, all sex outside of marriage is a sin...So while we're disappointed, this is no worse than having a state legislature say, 'We're no longer going to criminalize adultery or fornication.' It's just further evidence of the decay of the moral fabric of our country." 8

bullet

Carl H. Esbeck, legal counsel for the National Association of Evangelicals' office of governmental affairs, said: "We would counsel not to overread the case. The court decided that there is in the 14th Amendment a right of privacy for adults to practice consensual homosexual intercourse. That is the only thing decided...There are additional bridges to cross. Don't panic here." He feels that the law is no longer a moral teacher. "It is a healthy reminder, maybe a rude one, that it is first and foremost the church that has the responsibility to teach Old and New Testament morality." 8

bullet

The City council in Gulfport, MS, voted 5 to 1 with one abstention in favor of a resolution to condemn the U.S. Supreme court for its ruling in Lawrence v. Texas. Councilman Billy Hewes introduced the resolution. He said that the ruling is "the worst thing to happen to this country since they took prayer out of schools....To my knowledge Gulfport has always been a straight town and it needs to stay that way....These things violate the laws of God." He added that homosexuals degrade themselves "when they do some of the things they do." Councilman Jimmie Jenkins cast the sole dissenting vote. He said: "I don't think the people I represent elected me to come here and make these sorts of decisions. There are other public bodies to do that." Councilman Chuck Teston, who voted in favor of the resolution, said "Philosophically, I don't agree with homosexuality or same-sex marriage." 14

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If you would like to praise or condemn Justice Kennedy:

You can write a letter to him at: Honorable Anthony M. Kennedy, United States Supreme Court, One First Street N.E., Washington, D.C. 20543. If you wish, you can send us a copy for addition to this web site. We will post it anonymously unless you wish your name to be published.

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References:

  1. "High Court Rejects Sodomy Law," CBS News, 2003-JUN-26, at: http://www.cbsnews.com/
  2. "Supreme Court strikes down Texas sodomy law," CNN.com Law Center, 2003-JUN-26, at: http://www.cnn.com/2003/
  3. Dean Murphy, "Gays Celebrate, and Plan Campaign for Broader Rights," The New York Times, 2003-JUN-27. at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  4. "Gay rights advocates hail ruling. High court’s rejection of Texas sodomy law seen as 'historic'," MSNBC News, 2003-JUN-26, at:  http://www.msnbc.com/
  5. "Sodomy: 'The Court Has Taken Sides in the Culture War'," Massachusetts Family Institute, MFI E-Alert 6/26, 2003-JUN-26.
  6. Tim Harper, "Sodomy laws struck down: Highest U.S. court says Texas statute unconstitutional. Dissenter warns of legalized marriage for homosexuals," Toronto Star, 2003-JUN-27, Page A3.
  7. Neil A. Lewis, "Conservatives Furious Over Court's Direction," The New York Times, 2003-JUN-27, Page A19. Online at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  8. Ted Olson & Todd Hertz, "Opinion Roundup: Does Lawrence v. Texas Signal the End of the American Family? Evangelicals may not agree on antisodomy laws, but they're all concerned about what the Supreme Court's decision of them means." Christianity Today, Week of 2003-JUN-30, at: http://www.christianitytoday.com
  9. "RMN Flashnet Digest," 2003-JUL-2
  10. "Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Sodomy Law. Pro-Family Organization Denounces Supreme Court Decision," Focus on the Family, 2003-JUN-26, at: http://www.frc.org/get/n03f017.cfm
  11. "Homosexuals Push for Same-Sex Marriage After Sodomy Ruling," TownHall.com, 2003-JUN-27, at: http://www.townhall.com/
  12. David Von Drehle, "Ruling clears way for fight over gay marriage," The Washington Post, 2003-JUN-27, at: http://www.statesman.com/
  13. David Von Drehle, "A Debate on Marriage, And More, Now Looms," Washington Post, 2003-JUN-27, Page A01, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com
  14. "Council condemns sodomy ruling. Hewes: Gulfport is a 'straight town'," The sun Herald, 2003-JUL-23, at: http://www.sunherald.com/

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Copyright ©  2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-JUN-26
Latest update: 2003-JUL-23
Author: B.A. Robinson

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