Texas Senate Panel Advances Bill to Repeal Sodomy Law in 5-0 Vote

Texas' Senate Committee on Criminal Justice voted 5-0 this afternoon to advance Senate Bill 538, which would repeal the state's law banning sodomy, Equality Texas reports:

RodriguezSB 538 would repeal §21.06 of the Penal Code, the Homosexual Conduct Law, which was declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision. The bill would also amend the Health and Safety Code to delete the statement that "homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense under §21.06, Penal Code."

SB 538 is the first legislation ever filed in the Texas Senate to repeal the unenforceable §21.06 of the Penal Code. Identical legislation has been filed in the Texas House this session [HB 1701 by Farrar and HB 3232 by Coleman] and in every session since the Lawrence v. Texas decision.

The legislation was filed by Senator José Rodríguez of El Paso.

The AP adds:

"This defunct law was the grounds for police to harass patrons of restaurants in my district resulting in a suit against the city of El Paso," he said, describing a 2009 incident where police arrested a same-sex couple for kissing. "Not only is the continued existence of this law on the books a source of misinformation to law enforcement, but in my own district local governments have been forced to spend their limited resources due to this misuse."


  1. RONTEX says

    Finally something positive coming out Texas today. Hope this finally gets this hate law off the books for ever.

  2. Icebloo says

    Let’s wait to see if this happens before we celebrate. After all this is Texas – home to some of the most insane politicians on the planet.

  3. Artem says

    I guess it’s sorta amazing that we’re trying to pass legislations for equality here in America and there’s still States that have laws like this on the books. Marriage? Heck, we’re not even allowed to f**k in private!

  4. RBearSAT says

    LOL, hilarious to read some of the comments on this. First of all, the statute is precluded by the phrase “Section 21.06 was declared unconstitutional by Lawrence v. Texas, 123 S.Ct. 2472.” The bill filed by Sen. Rodriguez is to clean the books because some cops were selectively reading the statute. El Paso was sued by two men and won not too long ago.

    Secondly, before everyone bashes TX too much, let’s remember the history. It was GA and Bowers v. Hardwick that AFFIRMED sodomy as an offense. It was TX and Lawrence v. Texas that forever removed sodomy as an offense across the ENTIRE nation.

    But we forget our history sometimes.

  5. Ralph says

    Better watch out – when Montana did this, cows stopped producing milk and cats started barking.

  6. unruly says

    Rick Perry will veto just for the politics. There’s no way he’d be able to come up with a statement for his extremist supporters to sign it.

  7. Merv says

    Don’t bash Germany, because if they hadn’t elected Hitler he never could have been defeated.

  8. MoJo says

    Dear Towelroad,
    I respectfully request that your blog, PLEASE add a feature that allows users to “thumbs-up” or “thumbs-down” a comment, so that we don’t ALL have to reiterate what others have Already posted!

  9. MoJo says

    SEE That?!? I typed “reiterate” & “already posted” in the SAME. Freak’N. Sentence!
    It’s the Decline of a Nation- I Tell YA!

  10. Artie_in_Lauderdale says

    This bill is sensible since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws in 2003. It’s interesting that José Rodriguez of El Paso introduced this bill. Why interesting? Because Mexico struck down its sodomy laws and made consenting sex between same-sex couples legal…
    IN 1871! Yes, dear reader, that’s a difference of 132 years. Any comments from Towelroad’s little group of pearl-clutching anti-immigrant racists?

  11. Houndentenor says

    It’s easily the law I broke most often in Texas. It was Texas’ law that was the basis of the Lawrence decision which ruled all sodomy laws unconstitutional. This should have already happened, but it’s good that it might happen now. I won’t hold my breath but getting this out of committee is a positive step.

  12. Rob says

    – RBearSAT, both Georgia and Texas fought to keep their anti-sodomy laws. Georgia won and Texas lost seventeen years later. I don’t see how that’s a plus for Texas. If the state had it’s way, sodomy would still be illegal.

  13. Francis #1 says

    Unfortunately I’ve read this is unlikely to pass all the way as conservatives in the state are likely to block it, and Rick Perry is likely to veto it.

    17 STATES still have sodomy laws on the books. It was 18 and Montana repealed theirs (and Bryce Bennett deserves tons of credit for that b/c it was dead in committee and he revived it). Over 1/3 of states have sodomy laws and most of those states are very resistant towards eliminating them. Goes to show how far we have to go in this country to be treated as human, let alone be treated as equal.

  14. BobN says

    “But we forget our history sometimes.”

    Your theory seems to be that we should congratulate the source of injustice for the eventual repeal of said injustice.

    It’s a bit like thanking the Old South for the Emancipation Proclamation.

  15. says

    The only reason these laws are still on the books is to give the police a chance to harass gay citizens. That’s why Cuccinelli is fighting to keep Virginia’s sodomy law.

  16. RBearSAT says

    Ah Rob I guess you always look at the negative. Had a TEXAS couple not fought against the law and took it to court, so many other things would possibly still be legally challenged. But it was a TEXAS couple who stood up for their rights and won the BIG battle.

    So sad that you classify a state and its residents by the act of an attorney general doing what he was sworn to do, defend the laws of the state.

    That’s the problem with MOST in here. You just don’t quite get the entire picture. BTW, which state and city have a lesbian mayor of a major city? CA? NY? IL? No, TX. Which major county and in what state has a lesbian sheriff? Oh, Dallas County, TX. Which city’s mayor joined the mayors of NYC and Baltimore to publicly come out in USA Today supporting same-sex marriage? My home city, San Antonio, TX. Not Chicago, nor LA, nor even SFO.

    Yea, I guess we just don’t get this thing, do we.

  17. RBearSAT says

    No Bob, most in here forget those in the SOUTH who stand up and fight in the tough states and just live in the easy states throwing stones. It must be really tough living in CA or NY and having to fight these issues.

    Thank a TEXAS couple for having the courage to fight this issue.

  18. SoLeftImRight says

    This “law” isn’t really a law any more. It has been deemed unconstitutional. I am proud to have broken it a number of times in my visits to the Lone Star State.