family, Christian leaders say
By John W. Kennedy
legal and family leaders are concerned that the U.S. Supreme
Court’s 6-to-3 decision in Lawrence and Garner v.
Texas has not only established a fundamental right to sodomy
(homosexual sex) but is potentially the most destructive ruling
on the American family in the nation’s history.
The June 26 decision,
evangelical leaders warn, undermines the marriage laws of all
U.S. states that define marriage as between one man and one
woman, and opens a path to future rulings that will tolerate
“deviate” sexual behavior.
anything goes as long as people consent opens up a lot of behavior
that most Americans don’t think should be constitutionally
protected,” says Glenn T. Stanton, 41, Focus on the Family
marriage and sexuality senior research analyst. “If privacy
and mutual consent are the only criteria, it opens up incest,
polygamy and statutory rape. ”
The ruling overturns
the 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick 5-4 decision in which the
Supreme Court found no constitutionally protected right to homosexual
Justice Anthony M.
Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that Garner and Lawrence
“are entitled to respect for their private lives. The
state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny
by making their private sexual conduct a crime.’’
In a stinging dissent,
three justices condemned the outcome.
has taken sides in the culture war,” Justice Antonin Scalia
wrote, with support from Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist
and Justice Clarence Thomas. They said the ruling would spur
state laws allowing same-sex marriages. Scalia wrote that the
ruling also threatens laws banning bestiality, bigamy and incest.
This case stems from
a 1998 incident in which police, upon responding to a neighbor’s
report, found John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner in Lawrence’s
Houston apartment. The pair, charged with “deviate sexual
intercourse with another individual of the same sex,”
spent a night in jail, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges
and each paid a $200 fine.
Before the Supreme
Court in March, Paul M. Smith of Lambda Legal Defense and Education
Fund argued that Texas’ statute regulating homosexual
acts violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection
Clause. “Among the fundamental rights that are implicit
in our concept of order of liberty must be the right of all
adult couples, whether same-sex or not, to be free from unwarranted
state intrusion into their personal decisions about their preferred
forms of sexual expression,” Smith said.
Stanton, author of
Why Marriage Matters: Reasons to Believe in Marriage in
Postmodern Society, believes the Lawrence case will have
the same type of impact as Roe v. Wade had on abortion.
“It will fundamentally change how we view sexual ethics,”
he says. “No longer is it that one thing — marriage
— is right and one thing — gay sex — is wrong.
This equates marital sexual love with any kind of sex act.”
“The next argument
is that if the state has no rational basis to distinguish the
gender of sex partners, it has no right to limit the number
of sex partners,” says Ken Connor, 56, who stepped down
as president of the Family Research Council in July.
The Christian Medical
and Dental Associations, among others, filed a friend of the
court brief noting that same-sex sodomy is a chief method of
spreading sexually transmitted diseases and increasing the risk
of HIV. “On that basis alone, states should retain power
to regulate it,” Connor says. “The state regulates
everything from cigarette smoking to bungee jumping for the
sake of public health.”
Alan E. Sears, 51,
president of the Alliance Defense Fund, believes the government
has an overriding interest in containing the health hazards
related to homosexual sex. “Sodomy is practiced in many
public places beyond the bedroom,” says Sears, author
of The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principle Threat to
Religious Freedom Today, a book released in June. “It takes place in bushes,
parks, cars and bathhouses.”
Smith claimed that
sodomy laws discriminate because they can be used to deny homosexuals
employment and parents visitation rights of their children.
In a friend of the court brief, Human Rights Campaign said sodomy
laws fuel anti-homosexual harassment and violence. Although
every state had laws banning sodomy as recently as 1960, by
this year only 13 did, although statutes aren’t actively
A May Gallup poll
indicated that a record 60 percent of Americans accept the idea
that homosexual relations between consenting adults should be
legal and that homosexuality is an acceptable way of life. That
compares to only 32 percent at the time of the Bowers ruling.
Randy Thomas, 35,
is ministry manager for Exodus International, an organization
that promotes freedom from homosexuality through the power of
Jesus Christ. He says Lawrence will further help shape public
policy. “This ruling gives validity to the gay community,”
he says. “In addition to potentially redefining the family,
it further solidifies their position as a political and social
Gary R. Allen, Assemblies
of God Ministerial Enrichment national coordinator, finds it
ironic that the homosexual community, thought by many to represent
about 1 percent of the population, can wield such political
clout. The court ruling doesn’t change Christianity’s
message, he says, that God’s intent is for sexual relations
to be between a married man and woman.
local church should minister to the homosexual with love and
respect as with any other human beings, at the same time we
need to take a stand against the homosexual lifestyle,”
Allen told PE Report. “My experience as a pastor and counselor
has shown that homosexuality does not bring, on the whole, a
life of fulfillment, joy or long-lasting relationships.”