All Rights reserved
The Pentagon on Thursday recommended repeal of the military's ban on consensual sodomy. It has now been referred to the House Armed Services Committee's personnel subcommittee, where it is being reviewed. "Service members should not be expected to automatically check their constitutional rights at the barracks door," said Sharra E. Greer of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group for gay and lesbian service personnel. "Every service member deserves laws that are neither arbitrary nor vindictive. Congress should approve the committee's recommendation. Consensual sodomy prosecutions are both unwarranted and unconstitutional." Under military law, consensual sodomy by heterosexuals as well as same-sex couples can be punished by up to a five-year prison sentence. The constitutionality of the statute was called into question after the U.S. Supreme Court's historic Lawrence v. Texas decision, abolishing similar state sodomy laws. In 2001 a panel called for repeal of the statute. The Cox Commission called military sodomy prosecutions "arbitrary, even vindictive." That commission also recommended replacing the existing statute with one more closely resembling civilian law. SLDN cautioned service members, however, that the recommendations are not yet law and must be approved by Congress. "It remains to be seen if the recommendation by the Pentagon will be implemented and, if so, whether or not same-sex consensual sodomy prosecutions will cease," Greer said. "Pentagon leaders must not suggest repeal of the consensual sodomy prohibition in Article 125 only to continue violating Lawrence under a different statute. To do so would be a clear violation of service members' constitutional guarantee of privacy."