Gay rights activists in Kansas are
lobbying for repeal of the state's sodomy law.
Despite a groundbreaking 2003 U.S.
Supreme Court ruling which struck down sodomy laws throughout the
nation, many states have yet to repeal such laws.
In Lawrence v. Texas, the court
declared that laws that criminalize gay and lesbian relationships
violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
“We believe that the current statute,
while ultimately unenforceable, is an affront to thousands of
law-abiding gay and lesbian Kansans,” Thomas Witt, chairman of
Kansas Equality Coalition, told the Lawrence
Governor Sam Brownback's first
executive order created the Office of the Repealer. The agency has
been tasked with compiling a list of laws which are unreasonable,
unduly burdensome, duplicative, onerous or in conflict to be
Such laws “are detrimental to the
economic well-being of Kansas; hinder the growth of liberty and
opportunities for Kansans and Kansas business; and defy a
common-sense approach to governance,” Brownback said.
Neither Brownback, a Republican with a
history of opposing gay rights, nor officials are saying whether the
agency will attempt to repeal the sodomy statute.
While unenforceable, Witt said the law
stigmatizes gay people.
“This law technically criminalizes
our relationships and leaves us open to harassment by unscrupulous
authorities who may still make arrests under the provisions of this
statute,” he said.
In 2009, police in Texas, where the law
also remains on the books, cited
the law in threatening to arrest a gay male couple asked to leave a
restaurant for displaying affection.