By Frank Knaack
Policy and Advocacy Strategist
What year is it again? By the looks of the public health education program – the curriculum we teach school-age children – it surely can’t be 2011. You’d think, in 2011, it would simply be unacceptable for the state to teach kids that, “homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense.”
What century are we living in? Not the one where same-sex couples can get married in six states, and engage in civil unions and domestic partnerships in a host of others. No, this can’t be the century where the American public has generally agreed to remove the scarlet letter from anyone who is not straight and agrees to abstain until marriage. The one where we realized, through a spate of teen suicides, that teaching kids that being gay is wrong does irreversible damage. Surely, this is not the same year of Lady Gaga’s hit single Born This Way, yet another voice in a growing body of evidence that being gay is not about people embracing a “lifestyle” at all, but simply being who they are.
No, it can’t even be 2003. That’s when the U.S. Supreme Court – in Lawrence v. Texas – ruled against our law making “homosexual conduct” a crime. (Yes, yet another category where Texas can be proud to be last in this country, the last to undo our backwards, antiquated laws targeting gay people.) The Court found that, under the 14th Amendment, people have a right to engage in consensual sexual conduct in the privacy of their own homes without cops banging on their doors. The law was declared unconstitutional. But it is still on the books in Texas.
It’s despicable that the Legislature has yet to remove this anti-gay, unconstitutional law from the Penal Code. But there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Two bills were recently introduced that would bring us back into the 21st century. HB 604, sponsored by Representative Farrar and HB 2156, by Representative Coleman, would undo the law criminalizing homosexual conduct and would take the homophobic statements out of our public health education program.
Please, call your Representative today and demand that they support these bills. It’s time for Texas to show that it respects our Constitution and our individual liberty. Take action today!