At question is the Texas state Sodomy law (Section 21.06), making private consensual sex between members of the same sex illegal since 1974. The law does not penalize heterosexual acts. In 1998, a couple penalized under the law challenged its legality under the Texas Equal Rights Amendment.
On March 15th 2001, the Texas 14th Court of Appeals voted 7-2 to uphold the Texas sodomy law. Surprisingly, the court, which is all Republican, had two dissenting votes. Upon hearing of these judges' leanings, Harris County (Houston's county in Texas) Party Chair Gary Polland threatened dissenters to change their vote or resign in a letter. The letter was never officially sent, but mysteriously managed to leak its way to the media. The move was a clear attempt to sway the all-Republican court during their deliberations. Polland did not deny penning the letter, but claimed innocence in sending it when his ethics came into question by the Texas Committee on Judicial Affairs. "No honest person could say that there was not pressure [on the court]", said Neil McCabe, professor at the South Texas College of Law. "People can try to deny it, but there was an attempt at improper influence on the Court of Appeals by that letter." (It is immoral to try to influence a court in this way. It is also immoral to lie about your behavior to avoid consequences.)
The law's primary support has traditionally come from conservative Christian groups, many of which raise money and political clout through promoting hatred of homosexuals. They are so powerful that they have prevented the Log Cabin (gay & lesbian) Republicans from participating in the state Republican convention. Meanwhile, President Bush, who hales from Texas, is working hard to provide federal government funds to these groups with minimal accountability. (It is anti-American to subvert American ideals of fairness and the separation of church and state.)
There is also a move in the legislature to challenge the Sodomy Law, however prospects there look grim. State representative Deborah Danberg (Dem.) said that most Republican House members think the law is wrong, but they are loath to appear in support of sodomy. Out of fear of the Religious Right, they will succumb to pressure to vote to keep the law so they will keep their seats in the next election. Yet no Texas legislator is responsible (or foolish) enough to provide a means of enforcing the law. The law is rarely enforced. Its only real purpose is to gay bait. (It is immoral to abuse the rights of minorities for political gain.)
The majority opinion of the Court cited only preservation of traditional morality as their reason for upholding the law and claimed that the law did not violate equal protection by gender, which was the basis of the latest challenge.
Please consider for a moment what "traditional morality" might possibly mean. Does it mean that we have traditionally hated homosexuals and that we see no reason to change? Or is it that the Bible speaks ill of homosexuality in a couple of places? The first argument is extremely weak. Our moral sensibilities are constantly changing--consider how we have changed in the last 40 years with respect to the issue of race. As far as Biblical justification, consider that the hero, Lot, in the story of Sodom and Gomorra tried to throw his daughters out to be raped by an angry mob. Later, he had incest with the two of them and children were born from both unions. Is this the moral tradition that we're trying to uphold with the law? Homosexuality is also condemned by Lavitican law, but almost none of the law has any relevance today. Finally, consider that the supporters of the law think that it's morally ok for heterosexuals to commit sodomy and fellatio with multiple sex partners in a group orgy, but that it's immoral for a committed gay couple to express their love through sexual means. Recall that the Religious Right feels that love is perverted, if it is not between members of the opposite sex. Someone should inform them, however, that America is not in the business of enforcing obscure religious laws.
Far from moral, the Texas Sodomy Law is an excellent example of a
agenda foisted on others through immoral means. The "moral" traditions
upheld by the law seem to be homophobia, demagoguery, bullying,
pandering, the abuse of our legal system, and the destruction of
values. Sadly, the morally challenged in Texas are making laws for the
rest of us.
In June 2003, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Texas sodomy law was unconstitutional, along with the sodomy laws in 12 other states. In the dissenting opinion, Justice Scalia claimed that the court signed on to the "homosexual agenda". He railed against the fact that Biblical-based morality would no longer be the standard for our laws. We no longer own people as property and we think that killing disobedient children is morally reprehensible, both supported in the Bible. It is completely hypocritical to pick and choose which of "God's Absolute and Just Laws" you intend to enforce and which you intend to ignore. The fact that we've thrown out most of that garbage shouldn't cause us to shed any tears when more of it is junked. If one can't think of a rational, secular reason for a law, there simply shouldn't be one. Anything else is simply immoral.