Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) filed House Bill 84, which would strike that clause from the penal code and repeal the offense of homosexual conduct. The clause, which is also known as the “sodomy statute,” is unenforceable because of Lawrence v. Texas, which decided the clause is unconstitutional because it violates a right to privacy.
Moody told The Daily Texan, “It’s unconstitutional and unenforceable, but when we leave it on the books, it creates the opportunity for situations like the one that we experienced in El Paso.” In 2009, an El Paso police officer threatened to arrest two men who kissed in a public restaurant, citing the penal code.
“The only justification that I can think of for someone to not be for (the bill) is if they themselves feel that (homosexual acts) should still be against the law. So we have to keep pushing bills like this and keep moving this conversation. Otherwise we’ll never achieve true equality in the state of Texas,” Moody said.
Director of UT’s LGBTQ Studies program Lisa Moore believes that removing the offense of homosexual conduct from the penal code is a vital move forward in the protection of Texan’s rights and liberties. Moore herself has felt the sting of prejudice herself for being gay.
A professor on the Promotion and Tenure Committee “tried to persuade (the committee) not to promote me, despite my strong record of teaching, publication and service, because, as a self-declared lesbian, I was a ‘known felon,’” Moore told The Texan. “He was referring to the sodomy statute. He was able to convince several members of the (committee) to vote against me on the grounds that it would harm the University’s reputation to promote me just because of who I am.”
The stance Moody is taking with HB84 is the same stance as humanities and sociology senior Ian McEntee who said, “As a queer student, it is unsettling that it has taken the state of Texas this long to take a stand and strike a law that is unenforceable and based on a vehement hatred of a certain group of people. I think it’s time to take the stance that queer people are valid.”
Moody added, “This is about equality and doing what’s right.”