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Related Categories: LGBTI / Queer
Lawrence v. Texas Milestone for Humanity
by Socialist
Thursday Jun 26th, 2003 7:59 PM
Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2003, legalizing homosexuality in the United States, is as much a milestone for the gay and lesbian community as Roe v. Wade of 1973, legalizing the right to abortion, was for women, and both are for humanity.
Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2003, legalizing homosexuality in the United States, is as much a milestone for the gay and lesbian community as Roe v. Wade of 1973, legalizing the right to abortion, was for women, and both are for humanity.

The full text of both the majority and dissenting opinions may be found at :
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=000&invol=02-102

As with all milestones, we achieved these victories with mass movements. The gay liberation movement since the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969, itself a part of the civil rights and peace movements of the 1960s, which in turn were made possible by the prosperity achieved by the labor movements of the 1930s and 1940s, has finally achieved legal recognition.

While it is certainly true that Pres. Bush needed this decision to win gay votes, knowing that this decision was clearly likely if he just did nothing, it is also true that this year’s legalizing of gay marriage in neighboring Canada, as well as decades of gay pride marches and festivals increasing in number of marches and festivals and number of participants in each across the US and around the world, have made it clear that no one can turn back the clock of history.

It should be noted that Lawrence v. Texas is based on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, one of the anti-slavery amendments passed immediately after the Civil War, which first paragraph, containing the relevant Due Process and Equal Protection clauses, reads in pertinent part as follows:

“No State shall make any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Lawrence v. Texas reaffirms Roe v. Wade, guaranteeing our right to abortion, as follows:

“The opinions in Griswold and Eisenstadt were part of the background for the decision in Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113 (1973). As is well known, the case involved a challenge to the Texas law prohibiting abortions, but the laws of other States were affected as well. Although the Court held the woman's rights were not absolute, her right to elect an abortion did have real and substantial protection as an exercise of her liberty under the Due Process Clause. The Court cited cases that protect spatial freedom and cases that go well beyond it. Roe recognized the right of a woman to make certain fundamental decisions affecting her destiny and confirmed once more that the protection of liberty under the Due Process Clause has a substantive dimension of fundamental significance in defining the rights of the person.”

The legalizing of the demands of the gay liberation movement are following a similar pattern to the legalizing of a women’s right to vote. Women’ suffrage was achieved in the western states which by definition were far from the center of power, starting in the late 19th century. Notably, in the United States, women won the right to vote in 1869 in Wyoming, in 1870 in Utah, in 1893 in Colorado, in 1896 in Idaho, in 1910 in Washington and in 1911 in California. Internationally, women’s suffrage was achieved in 1893 in New Zealand, in 1902 in Australia, in 1906 in Finland, in 1913 in Norway, in 915 in Denmark and Iceland and in 1917, as a result of the Bolshevik Revolution in the Soviet Union. With the milestone of the workingclass victory of the Bolshevik Revolution, the capitalist world had to recognize women’s suffrage to continue to maintain any legitimacy, and in the United States, women won the right to vote in 1920.

The gay liberation movement has had success in legalizing homosexuality in most states, including California, where the sodomy laws were tossed in 1975. Where all progressive movements, and labor, are strongest, the gay liberation movement has achieved various goals in the past 34 years, including legalizing homosexuality, domestic partnership agreements, and adoption of children by gay couples. Gay marriage has yet to be achieved in this country, although it now exists in some European countries and this year, Canada, our neighbor, has joined the lead group of countries in legalizing gay marriage. Lawrence v. Texas does not legalize gay marriage but it is certainly a milestone toward that goal, which will probably be realized in this country by the end of the decade.

In this darkest hour in American history, with disastrous attacks on the Bill of Rights by the Bush Administration and Congress in the form of the passage of the anti-Patriot Act and the Homeland Gestapo Act, and the continued illegal imprisonment and torture of the prisoners of war at Guantanamo, Lawrence v. Texas is a beacon of hope and serves as a lesson to us all that we must keep organizing bigger and stronger mass movements, based on labor, if humanity is to survive the 21st Century.
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