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Senate committee votes to repeal state sodomy law

About time.


The Senate Criminal Justice Committee voted on Wednesday to repeal the state’s anti-gay sodomy law, a decade after the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.

Texas, along with Oklahoma and Kansas, will be the only states that still have the law on the books after Montana’s legislature approved its repeal of the measure and the governor pledged to sign it.

Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, authored the bill and said the state was long overdue in taking the measure off the books and that it created confusion among law enforcement.

“This defunct law was the grounds for police to harass patrons of restaurants in my district resulting in a suit against the city of El Paso,” he said, describing a 2009 incident where police arrested a same-sex couple for kissing. “Not only is the continued existence of this law on the books a source of misinformation to law enforcement, but in my own district local governments have been forced to spend their limited resources due to this misuse.”

Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, said he tried to get the law repealed in 1993, but conservatives in the Texas House blocked the attempt.

“All you’re doing is following court rulings and taking unconstitutional language off the books,” he said.

Sen. Rodriguez’s bill is SB 538. It’s the second pro-equality bill to pass out of this committee so far. As before, the big question is whether either bill can pass the full Senate or the full House, but regardless of that it’s still a step forward. Kudos to Sen. Rodriguez for filing the bill and to Sen. Whitmire for getting it through his committee. Equality Texas, Texpatriate, and the Texas Observer have more.

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