Unlimited Access. Try it Today! Your First 10 Days Always $0.99

Readers Respond

News Opinion Readers Respond

Md. should repeal sodomy laws

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller is right that Maryland isn't "the Southern state that [it] used to be" and has become more progressive ("Session ends in a flurry of votes," April 9). Yet, for all the progress that has been made, there remains one blemish on Maryland's progressive record that legislators should act to remove as soon as they reconvene: Maryland's sodomy laws.

Maryland is one of only 18 states in the nation with sodomy laws still on the books. Of those states, half are in the South (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia).

On paper, Maryland's sodomy laws criminalize all forms of non-vaginal sex, including consensual sex between opposite-sex couples and consensual sex between same-sex couples. In reality, the state has not prosecuted consensual, noncommercial, private sexual activity, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, since the late 1990s. Still, the state has kept its archaic sodomy laws on the books, allegedly so it could use them to prosecute cases of sexual assault, prostitution, or sex in public, even though those acts are already prohibited under other state criminal laws.

Never mind that sodomy laws were effectively invalidated by the United States Supreme Court 10 years ago or that Virginia's law — which is remarkably similar to Maryland's in its breadth — was struck down by a federal appeals court just last month as being "flatly contrary to controlling Supreme Court precedent" and "facially unconstitutional."

Perhaps the most compelling reason to strike Maryland's sodomy laws from the books is that it would drive another nail in the coffin of gay, lesbian, and bisexual stigmatization in the state. As one legal commentator bluntly put it, "unenforced sodomy laws are the chief systematic way that society as a whole tells gays they are scum." Imagine the impact on the self-esteem of Maryland's lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth when they discover that, at least on paper, their state considers them to be criminals.

Sharon Grosfeld, who was a legislator in the Maryland General Assembly from 1994 to 2006, was right, too, when she argued in the late 1990s that Maryland should repeal its sodomy laws. "Our statutes and our law books are a way for people to know their rights and responsibilities," she said. "If it's not repealed, many people will think it's still good law."

Now is the time for Maryland to jettison its archaic and unconstitutional sodomy laws, once and for all. Let's give Marylanders one more reason to be proud of the Free State's progressivism and commitment to fairness, dignity and equality for all.

Marc Salans, Chevy Chase

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts
  • Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
    Related Content
    • Religious freedom and the Constitution
      Religious freedom and the Constitution

      What many people forget is that the framers of our Constitution, through the First Amendment, sought to guarantee both freedom of religion and freedom from religion ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof").

    • The 'war for gay rights' has no winners or losers
      The 'war for gay rights' has no winners or losers

      Columnist Jonah Goldberg's recent commentary about Indiana's Religious Freedom and Restoration Act missed the point ("How do 'religious freedom' acts encourage discrimination?" April 3).

    • Religious beliefs can't excuse discrimination
      Religious beliefs can't excuse discrimination

      A recent suggestion that some people should be exempt from serving gays because of their religious beliefs is nonsense. If you are licensed to provide a service or employed by the government to do so, you are required to perform that service without unlawful discrimination. Neither government employment...

    • Equality in Alabama
      Equality in Alabama

      These are heady days for advocates of marriage equality. The Supreme Court is due to hear arguments this spring in a group of cases that could settle the question of a national Constitutional right to same-sex marriage, and this week, a decision not to enter a stay on the enforcement of a federal...

    • Court's silence on marriage speaks volumes [Editorial]
      Court's silence on marriage speaks volumes [Editorial]

      Our view: Same-sex marriage is set to be legal in a majority of states, making eventual Supreme Court victory appear inevitable

    • Yes, some people do follow the Bible to the letter
      Yes, some people do follow the Bible to the letter

      In his recent column ("The conservative case for same-sex marriage," March 29), Eddie Zipperer gives three reasons why conservatives should favor same sex marriage. I find his second, poking fun at the Bible, to be both offensive and ignorant.

    • Indiana learns discrimination is bad business
      Indiana learns discrimination is bad business

      The leaders of large corporations have not generally been at the vanguard of civil rights movements in this country. The average CEO is usually more concerned about stock valuations and quarterly dividends than about fighting discrimination. And when was the last time you saw the money-hungry NCAA...

    • Selective reading of Leviticus won't justify bigotry
      Selective reading of Leviticus won't justify bigotry

      Letter writer Adam Goldfinger objected to Eddie Zipperer's references to Leviticus and states that he does indeed try to follow the laws in this book ("Yes, some people do follow the bible to the letter," April 3). I find myself wondering how many people Mr. Goldfinger has personally stoned to...

    Comments
    Loading

    57°