‘Homosexual Conduct’ Law Still On The Books In Texas

It was in 2003 that the United States Supreme Court struck down Texas' sodomy law in the a monumental ruling with Lawrence v Texas. Though it cannot be legally enforced, The Austin Statesman points out that, eight years later, "homosexual conduct" is still listed as a crime in that state.

Texas-flag The paper reports on the importance of removing the law:

"'By leaving it on the books, you create the potential for abuse," said Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, which is representing two gay men who were kicked out of an El Paso restaurant in 2009 for kissing in public.'"

Refresh your memory about the El Paso kissing incident, where an officer cited the "homosexual conduct" law, here.

Lawmakers in Texas have decided it's not worthwhile to pursue changing the law.

"The GOP domination is also reflected in the Criminal Jurisprudence committee, which would be the first to vote on Farrar's or Coleman's bill. A Democrat chairs the committee, but Republicans — including Wayne Christian, the most recent president of the Texas Conservative Coalition — outnumber them two-to-one."

"Christian said he had not looked at the bills in detail, but that the time it would take them to go through committee probably would not be worth the outcome — especially in a session where lawmakers are wrestling with major issues like redistricting and filling a multi-billion-dollar budget hole."

"'In this particular session, I'd be hesitant to do any changing,' Christian said, adding that the law probably 'better reflects the views of a lot of citizens' as it is."


  1. Strepsi says

    I love the GOP hypocrisy: there are always more important issues than changing laws, like the Economy and the Budget — except if it comes to passing new laws against gay equality, in which case drop everything and activate.

    Of all the so-called “small government, no government interference” Libertarian / Tea party GOP types, the FIRST THING they try to do is pass NEW legislation to make gay people unequal.

  2. anon says

    Keeping laws on the books is a way of waiting for the SC to overturn L v T. Unlikely, but it happens. Actually, the worst state for not clearing out bad laws is NY, and people get falsely arrested every week because of lack of police training and outright malice.

  3. joeblo says

    Texas you’ll always be Americas A**hole! A bloated sense of entitlement backed up with the smallest penises in the northern hemisphere. Wasn’t there an old country song “All Them Asses Live in Texas”?

  4. candideinnc says

    Being hated by small minded, parochial bigots from backward states (my apologies to Austin–and sympathy) really has stopped bothering me. It is what I have come to expect. The fact that their laws are years, often decades behind the times is also predictable. I would be shocked if their thinking was any less medieval.

  5. HadenoughBS says

    GOP bigotry and homophobia piss me off so badly I can hardly speak to anyone I know claiming membership in that God awful party. And, here in Texas, GOPers and their Teahadist breathern reign supreme. It’s all I can do to keep my calm knowing that I have to live here among these assholes. Thank God the Supreme Court now protects we GLBT Texans from ridiculous civil rights-restricting laws like this hateful one still on this state’s books. It’ll remain there for a very long time as long as GOPers run this state. In the meantime, we take our chances with idiot cops like the one cited in El Paso. Lord knows there are plenty of homophobic officers around Texas.

  6. hank says

    Texas is a lost cause, and all the gay people and progressives who still reside there are living in denial. Hopefully, they will wise up before it is too late. As for Austin – remember Berlin in the early 30’s?

  7. Xtab says

    Oh Hank, that’s such an exaggeration! Once you start with the Nazi comparisons you lose all credibility.

  8. Alan says

    Texas is not the only state that retains laws against gay sex. In Mississippi the law remains on the books as “Unnatural Intercourse”, and carries a ten year jail sentence.

  9. Mac McNeill says

    Seems to me you can’t fix stupid. With Texas it understood they feel they’re above the law just as George Bush did. New York is another matter. Mississippi will always be backwards.

  10. RBearSAT says

    For all the comments in here about this issue, it’s really a dead issue brought up by Equality Texas for show. Texas, like many other states, goes through a period statutory revision process that cleans up the statutes, including removal of invalid statutes. Lawrence v. Texas made the 21.06 invalid and will be subject to cleanup in the next statutory revision.

    This bill is more a show vote and with a Republican supermajority, stands no chance of passage. But it makes for good political theater for some. Only a small vocal minority of LGBT lobbyists even support the position taken by Equality Texas. We have bigger fish to fry than fighting to clean up something that’s going to be cleaned up anyway.

    It also gives some of you in here a place to verbalize your Texas hatred. For all the bad stuff you write, remember Houston is the largest city in the US to elect an openly homosexual mayor. The sheriff of Dallas County is a lesbian. One of the council members of Fort Worth provided one of the best “It Gets Better” speeches I’ve heard in a long time and has the support of many of his council members.

    But it’s easy to throw stones at us here in the Lone Star State.

  11. John in Houston says

    “especially in a session where lawmakers are wrestling with major issues like redistricting and filling a multi-billion-dollar budget hole.”

    No they’re not. They’re worried about making sure that public employees don’t text message while on the clock. Gov. Rick “Goodhair” Perry refuses to take federal dollars slated for education because it HAS to go to education and they won’t let him decrease funding from other sources to rob the fund. Republicans have been in charge here for over a dozen years, but, according to them, the budget crisis is all Obama’s fault.

    They’re not worried about the budget, they’re worried about keeping the rednecks appeased so they keep getting reelected.

  12. RedCedar says

    “… the law probably ‘better reflects the views of a lot of citizens’ as it is.”

    No doubt.

    I daresay anti-miscegenation laws (struck down in the 1960’s by SCOTUS in Loving v. Virginia) likely also better reflect the views of a lot of citizens. Does he plan to put such laws on the books, too?

  13. RedCedar says

    “In Mississippi the law remains on the books as “Unnatural Intercourse”, and carries a ten year jail sentence.”

    IIRC Massachusetts still has a law on the books from the 1600 or 1700’s making it illegal to have intercourse in any but the missionary position (of course between married man and woman only). The Supreme Judicial Court essentially dismissed it many years ago, but it’s still on the books.

  14. Chris says

    Texas should not be part of the United States. It is the single most damaging state in terms of Education, Executions,lax regulations, support of it’s people and outrageous laws – most based on mythology/religion.

    It has done the most out of any state to try to separate – so much that there are regular serious high level meetings on succession or not.

    I tell every employer I come in contact I absolutely refuse to relocate or spend significant time in Texas.

  15. Jesse says

    Ok for all of you saying Texas is this and that blah blah blah. I live here. I am gay. I will not move. Why? For the same reasons African Americans didn’t leave the south before Brown V. Board of Education. Instead they stood up and challenged mainstream society. That brought along the civil rights movement.

    You stay and you work hard if you want change. And things are changing. BTW homophobia is not exclusively a Texas thing. Plenty of places in all parts of this country are just as homophobic. So what do we do? Do we just pick up and leave every state, city and street where homophobia exists? Or do we stay, stand up and fight?

  16. Drew says

    Is ‘NO GAYS!’ going to be the rallying cry for the 2012 election? I see all the Republican contenders going all out on the topic and it’s one of the few wedge issues that really would bring out the religious electorate. Keep anti-gay laws on the books through 2011 and by 2012, stupid people will feel the gay community’s protests validate the Republican claims that ‘they’re trying to take over’ or whatever. I’m starting to worry a bit how this is playing out.

  17. RBearSAT says

    Chris first of all it’s “secession” not “succession” when talking about the concept. Secondly, “regular serious high level meetings” about it? Maybe you SHOULD visit the state instead of trashing it. There are no such meetings anywhere. If anything, most joke about the concept. Yes, Perry mentioned it but it was more to make a political statement about dissatisfaction with the federal government than anything. It gives us something to rib him about.

    We have our problems but we’re also a very resilient state. As Jesse stated there are many of us working hard within the state to change minds and mindsets, to the point that some of the urban centers are turning blue such as Dallas County.

    Personally, with your attitude I’m okay with you NOT relocating to Texas. We’re doing okay on our own down here.

  18. kevinintexas says

    It doesn’t do anyone any good to refer to my state as “America’s a**hole” or to all of our people as bigoted rednecks. BELIEVE IT OR NOT Austin is not the only city in Texas with liberals and gays. I’m sick of the blind, rabid hatred of Texas preached by some you yankees who see New York City and San Francisco as utopia, and Dallas as hell on earth. You couldn’t pay me to move to SF – I plan on living in either San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, or Houston in the future.

    I’m ashamed of bigots and shameless politicians who attempt to put their stamp on Texas, but I will always love my state.

  19. JDB says

    I think a lot of the Texas-hate here sounds remarkably similar to the crap spewed by that lawmaker so aptly mis-named Christian.

    Don’t throw hate at people who throwing hate around, it’s stupid and it doesn’t further our cause one iota. The only thing it does is make you feel a little better for a little while, which is generally the hallmark of childish behavior.

  20. irishtxn says

    I can’t believe after 8yrs and this still on the books! Actually, I can believe it! The 8th Circut Court of the Supreme Court is in New Orleans and they have had a bad time since Katrina!

  21. RBearSAT says

    jdb I think most of the comment I made was about clarification and not in a very spiteful nature. The key is to make sure people have facts over fiction.

    IrishTxn see my comment. It has to be cleaned up, either by legislative action or statutory revision which will probably be the route taken.

    Further info on statutory revision can be found here – http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/gtli/leginfo/media_statrev.html. As you can see part of the process is “eliminating repealed, invalid, duplicative, and other ineffective provisions” which 21.06 would fall under. So while this may try to stir up comments it’s really a mute point.