That list would include removing Texas’ unconstitutional anti-sodomy law from the books.
Although Texas’ so-called sodomy law cannot be enforced legally, civil rights advocates say it should be removed from the books because it creates a climate favorable to bullying, gay-bashing and hate crimes.
“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.
In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas could not stop people of the same sex from engaging in sexual activity. Today, the Texas Penal Code still states that it is a Class C misdemeanor to engage in “deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex” — just after a line explaining that the law is unconstitutional.
El Paso police cited the “homosexual conduct” wording when the two men were kicked out of a Chico’s Tacos restaurant. The men refused to leave and called the police, assuming the restaurant staff was out of line with a city ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Instead, an officer told the men it was illegal for two men to kiss in public and said they could be cited for “homosexual conduct.”
At the time, El Paso Police Department spokesman Javier Sambrano described the officers involved as “relatively inexperienced.”
Harrington said even though the men were not cited, the Chico’s Tacos incident is about harassment.
That’s why Texas needs to strip the language from the books, said State Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, who has sponsored legislation to do so.
“There is archaic language in our code that is used against our citizens today,” said Farrar, whose colleague, Rep. Garnet Coleman, also a Houston Democrat, has filed an identical bill.
Farrar’s bill is HB604; Coleman’s is HB2156. Neither is likely to get a hearing in committee, much less voted out of committee; if by some miracle that were to happen, it would never be approved by the full House or signed by Governor Perry. The attitude of Rep. Wayne Christian, president of the Texas Conservative Coalition, tells you all you need to know:
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.
Priorities, you know? The Dallas Voice has more.