MONTGOMERY, Ala. — An Alabama appeals court on Friday ruled that the state’s ban on consensual oral and anal sex, aimed at criminalizing homosexual conduct, is unconstitutional.
The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals issued its unanimous ruling in an appeal of Dewayne Williams, a Dallas County man who was indicted in 2010 on a charge of first-degree sodomy and convicted on the “lesser-included offense” of sexual misconduct.
Williams acknowledged he had taken part in the sodomy but argued it was consensual, according to the ruling.
In overturning Williams’ conviction, the appeals courts said that a portion of Alabama’s sexual misconduct statute — which reads in part, “consent is no defense to a prosecution” — was unconstitutional.
In its ruling, the court pointed to the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court‘s decision in Lawrence vs. Texas, which struck down all state sodomy laws as unconstitutional. The high court said there was no “legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual.”
Alabama’s sodomy law, although unenforceable, has not been repealed by the Alabama Legislature.
The court also denied the state’s request to remove the language on consent from the law and remand Williams’ case for a new trial.
The Alabama appeals court said in its ruling that a remand of the case would violate the double jeopardy clauses of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Alabama Constitution.