DECRIMINALIZING SAME-SEX BEHAVIOR: PART 5
Reactions to the Lawrence v. Texas ruling by groups
The Supreme Court ruling & its
implications are described in a
Reactions to the court decision by groups and individuals:
||Richard 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
||Robert 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
||Paula 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."
||The 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
||Kate 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. Itís impossible to be considered a full and equal citizen if
youíre a criminal in 13 states." She described the decision as marking
"a cultural change as much as a legal change." 4
||Ron 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
||Cathy 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
||John 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."
||Charles 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, itís 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...Todayís 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'."
||Jay 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
||Winnie 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
||Rev. 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
||Randall 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
||Gary 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
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
||Ken 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."
||Two 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
||Tom 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."
||Gays, lesbians and their supporters celebrated the court ruling in 35
cities during the evening of JUN-26. 11
||Rev. 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
||In 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
||Robert 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."
||Kevin 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
||Peter 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."
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
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
Amendmentónot because we think this decision is wrong, but because other
people will use it in a way that is not wholly logical."
Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship
said: "If the Court is logical and consistentóand thank God they often
aren'tóthen 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."
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."
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
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
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.
"High Court Rejects Sodomy Law," CBS News, 2003-JUN-26, at:
"Supreme Court strikes down Texas sodomy law," CNN.com Law
Center, 2003-JUN-26, at:
Dean Murphy, "Gays Celebrate, and Plan Campaign for Broader
Rights," The New York Times, 2003-JUN-27. at:
"Gay rights advocates hail ruling. High courtís rejection of Texas
sodomy law seen as 'historic'," MSNBC News, 2003-JUN-26, at:
"Sodomy: 'The Court Has Taken Sides in the Culture War',"
Massachusetts Family Institute, MFI E-Alert 6/26, 2003-JUN-26.
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.
Neil A. Lewis, "Conservatives Furious Over Court's Direction,"
The New York Times, 2003-JUN-27, Page A19. Online at:
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."
"Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Sodomy Law. Pro-Family
Organization Denounces Supreme Court Decision," Focus on the Family,
"Homosexuals Push for Same-Sex Marriage After Sodomy Ruling,"
TownHall.com, 2003-JUN-27, at:
David Von Drehle, "Ruling clears way for fight over gay marriage,"
The Washington Post, 2003-JUN-27, at:
David Von Drehle, "A Debate on Marriage, And More, Now Looms,"
Washington Post, 2003-JUN-27, Page A01, at:
"Council condemns sodomy ruling. Hewes: Gulfport is a 'straight town',"
The sun Herald, 2003-JUL-23, at:
Copyright © 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2003-JUN-26
Latest update: 2003-JUL-23
Author: B.A. Robinson