Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sodomy Blog

It sometimes seems to me that in the LGBT rights movement, there are issues that are considered "glamorous" and those that are considered less so. The fight for same-sex marriage, for instance, is a glamorous issue. It's an issue that has pervaded into our culture, and much time, attention, and money has been spent in attempts to attain these rights.

Please understand that my intention is not to undermine or belittle the fight for marriage equality. It is, of course, an important and necessary step in the fight for true equality. But there are other, smaller battles that need to be taken on and are occasionally ignored.

Sodomy laws are not a topic that many people are comfortable talking about, for many reasons. Beyond this, they're also a topic that many people feel no need to discuss anymore.

As you may be aware, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled sodomy laws unconstitutional in 2003. That case, Lawrence v. Texas, was a watershed moment for the LGBT rights movement. The ruling struck down sodomy laws in 14 states, including North Carolina.

What you may not know, however, is that North Carolina's Crime Against Nature (or CAN) law remains on the books. Even more disturbingly, the law is still occasionally enforced.

In May 2008, two men in Raleigh were arrested and charged under the CAN statute. Though the District Attorney ultimately decided not to proceed to trial, the simple fact that this remains an arrestable offense is unconscionable.

There are many reasons why repealing this law is important to our community. Amongst other things, the statute has been used by landlords as justification for not renting apartments to LGBT individuals.

It's been used by legislators to try and pass legislation in the state General Assembly that would prohibit sex education teachers from mentioning "sexual practices that are not lawful in North Carolina." And perhaps most damagingly, the CAN statute criminalizes the behavior of most LGBT individuals.

We cannot allow this statute to remain valid in our state. We cannot allow this vestige of ignorance and discrimination to continue to ruin the lives of LGBT people. We should not, and must not, allow this topic to be brushed aside anymore.

-Seth Maid

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