thinking about coming out and need a support group, call the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby, 512-474-5475 in Austin and we will refer you to someone in your area. State Representative Glen Maxey once told me about an elderly woman he met while campaigning who said to him, “If you are honest with me about being gay, then I know I can trust you.” Lesbian and gay pride is about honesty. It is about confronting and challenging bigotry within one’s self and within society. Lesbian and gay pride is about self-actualization and social change. On a recent trip to Builders Square, I saw a young woman wearing an OutYouth Tshirt. Her shirt said “There will only be one you forever and for all time. Fearlessly be yourself.” The Legislature, the Courts and Other Unnatural Acts BY RICK BROWN state WARREN CHISUM, the state representative from Pampa, on May 6 successfully goaded the Texas House into voting to criminalize all acts of anal sex whether homosexual or not, in private or otherwise some Texans said a prayer and looked hopefully to the state Supreme Court for relief. Out of the battered Texas Constitution the court is carving an emerging right to privacy that remains the best hope for achieving equal rights for homosexuals and keeping conservatives like Chisum out of our bedrooms. The nine justices have already identified a “zone of privacy” they agreed the state Constitution implies in Sections 6, 8, 9, 10, 19 and 25 of the Texas Bill of Rights. That innovation came in a unanimous 1987 decision, Texas State Employees Union v. Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, a case dealing with the use of polygraph tests for employee screening. In TSEU v. TDMHMR, the court found justification for breaking the “zone of privacy” only when “reasonably warranted for the achievement of compelling government objectives that can be achieved by no less intrusive, more reasonable means.” Now, with a civil suit brought by five homosexuals against the state of Texas, justices are being asked to extend that zone to sexual acts committed in private between two consenting adults of the same sex. One of the plaintiffs in the case, Austin attorney Tom Doyal, says the court’s stillpending decision could hold major implications for future state privacy suits, including those dealing with abortion. ing to chip at \(abortion protections offered Roe v. Wade,” he said, a state constitutional challenge to keep abortion safe and legal on privacy grounds could become the sole Rick Brown is a freelance writer in Austin. recourse pro-abortion forces have. Meanwhile, conservative forCes are working on the legislative front with such amendments as Chisum’s to criminalize sodomy in all cases. Chisurn had offered the amendment, he said, to protect public health, since engaging in anal sex is one of the primary ways of contacting the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, but such an all-encompassing ban on sodomy wasn’t even discussed when.the Senate voted on its version of the bill. Both versions have the aim of streamlining the state penal code, which has become an arcane affair since its last revision in the 1970s. The most disturbing aspect of the process to lesbians and gay men is that the House version still contains a provision they have worked hard to eliminate: Section 21.06, which sets out criminal sanctions for sodomy committed between members of the same sex. The law is the primary excuse in Texas for officially sanctioned discrimination against homosexuals, who feel its sting when applying for jobs, seeking health care or housing and appealing for custody of children. Further, it is the question of 21.06’s constitutionality that Supreme Court justices are deliberating in the suit brought by Doyal and four others with the assistance of the Texas Human Rights Foundation. Senators friendly to the cause had the luxury of debating a bill that did not include the offending statute, and they were able to beat back an attempt by conservative forces to retain 21.06. In the more conservative House, members were forced to debate a version of the legislation in which 21.06 had been re-attached in committee. Representative Glen Maxey, the Austin Democrat who is the Legislature’s only openly gay member, sent up an amendment during floor debate to strike the statute, but diplomatically withdrew it. Maxey said he didn’t want to force on members a vote they could find embarrassing. That could prove to be a savvy strategy, especially after the grumbling heard when Chisum called for a record vote on his allencompassing sodomy amendment. The conservative didn’t make many friends for his cause with such ham-handed tactics, said Laurie Eiserloh, director of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby of Texas. Still, the legislative fate of 21.06 now lies in the ‘hands of House and Senate conferees yet to be named at this writing. While the Senate is on record as opposed to the sodomy prohibition, the resolve of Senate conferees is uncertain in the face of pressure to reach a compromise on the penal code. That’s why lesbians and gay men are still looking to the nine Texas Supreme Court justices to finally rid state law of this offensive passage. One hopeful indication of the justices’ pending decision came May 5. On that day, the court let stand on a technical point a lower court ruling that 21.06 is unconstitutional. The case stems from accusations by lesbian Mica England that the Dallas Police Department rejected her employment application because of her sexual orientation. The Third Court of Appeals in Austin found in her favor, but the Dallas city attorney’s office failed to petition for a re-hearing before asking the state’s high court to overturn the ruling. Because of the procedural infraction, high court justices ruled they had no jurisdiction in the case, said England’s attorney, Ed Tuddenham: That places all the more importance on the other 21.06 case before justices, Morales, et al v. the State of Texas, which could decide the sodomy question once and for all. [Editor’s Note: Morales refers to a plaintiff, not the Texas Attorney General.] Doyal, a former legal director of the Texas Human Rights Foundation, said the state civil rights case had its genesis in the 1986 U.S. 20 MAY 21, 1993
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