Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a New York-based gay rights advocacy group, announced Tuesday that it will begin a series of town hall meetings January 14 in the 13 states that still have sodomy laws in preparation for the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to review Texas's Homosexual Conduct Law. The first meeting will be held in Birmingham, Ala., and is cosponsored by Equity Alabama; the Birmingham chapter of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; and the Alabama chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
"What these town halls present is an opportunity to provide our own community and the public information about the case and really try to capitalize on the interest that's out there to demonstrate to people how significant this issue is," Lambda Legal's Eric Ferrero said. "We hope the town halls will help to build us a foundation and build partnerships on local levels so that we can do great work, regardless if we win or lose this case."
Lambda Legal will run the meetings throughout the winter and spring in the following states, all of which currently have sodomy laws on record: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Utah.
In the Supreme Court review of the Texas case, Lambda Legal will represent John Lawrence and Tyron Garner, who were arrested in Lawrence's Houston home, jailed overnight, and ordered to pay fines after officers responding to a false report found the men engaged in private, consensual sex. In 1986, the Supreme Court ruled that Georgia's law banning consensual sodomy did not violate privacy rights. In bringing the Texas case, Lambda Legal is asking the justices to reconsider that ruling, which has been used against lesbians and gay men for almost two decades.