| Tyron Garner (left) and John Lawrence in Houston, Texas. (Reuters)
Washington, June 27: This weekend, America has sex on its mind. In a majority judgment of six against three, the US Supreme Court has ruled against archaic laws in nine Americans states, which ban oral and anal sex even among married couples in the privacy of their homes.
The conservatives are outraged by the judgment and were on the streets yesterday, holding hands in prayer in front the highest court of the land as the judges gave finishing touches to their landmark ruling.
The liberals are out too, celebrating. Especially gays and lesbians. The judgement strikes down laws against sodomy by gay men in four more states — again in the privacy of their homes. Until the 1960s, all 50 states in the US had criminal laws that outlawed consensual sodomy. Until yesterday, such statues remained on the book only in 13 states.
The Supreme Court’s ruling has put President George W. Bush in a fix. If he endorses the ruling, he runs the risk of undermining his base among conservatives.
But liberal and largely suburban voters, whom the Republicans are trying to attract, will be put off by any criticism of the judgment.
Yesterday’s judgment was prompted by a case in Texas, where Bush was governor until his choice as President in 2000.
In 1998, two Texans, John Lawrence and Tyron Garner, were having sex in the privacy of the home of one of the men.
A neighbour called the police, but only said a man with a gun was “going crazy” in Lawrence’s apartment.
The police broke in, found no gun, but caught the two men engaged in sex. The neighbour was charged with filing a false report.
Lawrence and Garner were booked under a law which barred “deviate sexual intercourse”.
They were jailed briefly and released after a court fined each men $200 plus court costs.
Gay and lesbian organisations made a cause out of the arrests of the two men and took their case all the way up to the Supreme Court.
Texas defended its statute at every stage of the process arguing that the sodomy “has nothing to do with marriage or conception or parenthood and it is not on a par with these sacred choices”.
Ruth Harlow, lawyer for the two men, said after yesterday’s judgment that “all of us as Americans have the right to choose how we can express our love for one another in the privacy of our own homes”.
In his dissenting judgement, Justice Antonin Scalia, a fierce conservative on the bench, said “the court has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda...The court has taken sides in the culture war”.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority judges, said that gay people “are entitled to respect for their private lives... The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime”.