St. Mary's Law Journal


Throughout America, homosexual men and women have fought for the protection of their constitutional rights; gay men, lesbian women, and bisexual persons have petitioned the government for marital rights, adoption privileges, and recognition in the armed forces. While American culture has changed to include homosexuals in its daily life, the judicial branch has been hesitant in accepting gay culture within the legal system. While American courts remained reluctant to invalidate anti-sodomy statutes, Lawrence v. Texas pushed homosexual issues to the forefront. Gay activists demanded that the courts recognize homosexual individuals as persons deserving of constitutional protections. In doing so, Lawrence forced the legal system to reconsider its views toward homosexual individuals and to face the changes in morality and society. The Lawrence holding created a new playing field for homosexual individuals. Prior to this decision, the Supreme Court, lower federal and state courts suggested that homosexual individuals might never enjoy the rights to affirm their relationship in a sexual way without facing criminal prosecutions. In a 6–3 decision, Lawrence invalidated a Texas anti-sodomy law and protected the privacy rights of homosexual individuals. As progressive as the opinion may be, Lawrence left several issues open ended. The majority opinion only decided that homosexual individuals may engage in sexual relations with members of the same sex without facing criminal prosecution. The majority clearly stated that this opinion did not require the government to give formal recognition to homosexual relationships. Clearly, homosexual activists face an uphill road. Although the Supreme Court ruled in favor of homosexuals' right to privacy, and America is moving away from homophobia, the battle has just begun. Even though gays have enjoyed successes in the judicial system, the courts may not be the best place to answer these questions.


St. Mary's University School of Law