Landau, Joseph
February 2004
New Republic;2/16/2004, Vol. 230 Issue 5, p16
The author argues that recent court cases related to the Supreme Court's "Lawrence v. Texas" decision demonstrate that the decision did not pave the way for substantial advances in gay rights. Last year, conservatives responded to Lawrence v. Texas--in which the Supreme Court struck down all 13 state anti-sodomy statutes and overruled Bowers v. Hardwick, the infamous 1986 case that denied "a fundamental right to engage in homosexual sodomy"--with dire warnings that the decision would open the floodgates to radical social changes, including the advent of gay marriage. Actually, conservatives may have little to worry about. True, in a November ruling, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court struck down the state's ban on gay marriage. But this ruling, while drawing on the arguments made in Lawrence, was grounded largely in the Massachusetts state constitution, not the U.S. Constitution.And Lawrence has not only failed to move the nation substantially closer to gay marriage. Two rulings by state courts last week--one, a Kansas case that closely mirrors last June's sodomy law case; the other, a challenge to Florida's ban on gay and lesbian adoption--suggest that Lawrence hasn't even knocked down the barriers to basic legal equality that it was widely assumed to have demolished.


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