Why Is 'Homosexual Conduct' Still Illegal in Texas?

Despite Supreme Court ruling, anti-sodomy law remains on books
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2011 2:20 PM CDT
Updated Apr 17, 2011 10:22 AM CDT
Supporters of the Supreme Court ruling striking down a Texas anti-sodomy law rally June 26, 2003, in Chicago.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – According to the Texas state penal code, "homosexual conduct" is still a criminal offense—even though the Supreme Court deemed the state's anti-sodomy law unconstitutional eight years ago. Though the state stopped enforcing the law after the Supreme Court's decision, it's still on the books—and will likely remain so, even though a pair of bills introduced in the Texas House recently would finally remove it. The problem? The legislature's Republican supermajority might never allow the bills to come to a vote, Mother Jones reports. In their party platform last year, the Republicans made it clear they wanted homosexuality to remain outlawed.

Though the Supreme Court ruled the statute unconstitutional in 2003, a full act of the legislature is still necessary to repeal the law. Normally, Texas is "pretty good" at doing that, says one judge. But a 2009 omnibus bill that formally repealed more than three dozen unconstitutional bills did not include the anti-sodomy law, and multiple efforts to repeal the law, launched by Democrats, have made no headway. Politicians including the governor have publicly declared support for the sodomy ban. This year, Democrats finally managed to snag a committee hearing on the bills, but one of the sponsoring representatives fears they will stall there: "The prospects don't look good."

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