Why do Texas Republicans refuse to repeal a law that says gay sex is illegal?

05 30 2018: Texas Governor Greg Abbott holding a press conference to unveil his school safety plan following a school shooting at Santa Fe High School.

05 30 2018: Texas Governor Greg Abbott holding a press conference to unveil his school safety plan following a school shooting at Santa Fe High School. Shutterstock

The Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that Texas’ sodomy law was unconstitutional, but state legislators continue to fight the battle against gay sex. Despite repeated efforts by Democrats to take the law off the books, Republicans have refused to repeal the law.

In its Lawrence v Texas ruling, the court struck down sodomy laws nationwide, saying adults have a right to privacy in their bedrooms and Democrats have introduced legislation every session since to repeal it.

And every year, Republicans have buried it in committee, and refused to bring it to a vote. It has never been voted on.

Lawmakers amended the penal code after verdict, but according to Lambda Legal attorney Paul Castillo, the law is still causing issues for gay men.

Related: Texas GOP debates for two hours whether to tell gay Republicans they aren’t welcome

“In the years since Lawrence, there have been numerous incidents in Texas and across the country where officials have used these illegal bans to justify harassing, detaining or illegally arresting individuals,” Castillo told Courthouse News. “Unenforceable laws are far from harmless; their mere presence causes confusion for law enforcement and, more importantly, ongoing stigma for the community.”

State Representative Joe Moody told the outlet that there’s one obvious reason why Republican refuse to vote on the issue. They don’t want to offend the religious right.

“That’s my only explanation, because it boggles my mind,” Moody said in a telephone interview. “This isn’t making a statement about how you feel about the LGBTQ community. It’s not making a statement about your morality. It has nothing to do with that. This is simply cleaning up a criminal statute that is unconstitutional.

“So the only conclusion I can come to is there are members that are afraid to do what’s right, and to explain exactly what this bill does. I assume they think they would feel some sort of backlash from their constituents.”

Moody, a Democrat, has sponsored legislation that would repeal the unconstitutional law. And he’ll continue to do so, he says.

“I will propose it until this unconstitutional law is taken off the books.”

Legislation to repeal the law is ready to be filed for the 2019 session of the state legislator.

This Story Filed Under

Comments