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Texas Attorney General says he would defend a ban on sodomy

16 states have sodomy bans that would immediately go into effect if the Supreme Court overturned Lawrence vs Texas.

By Emily Maskell

Words: Brian Leonard; pictures: Wikimedia

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he would be “willing and able” to support a ban on sodomy in his state.

His comments come amid speculation that the Supreme Court could potentially overturn historical LGBTQ-related rulings such as Lawrence vs Texas: the 2003 case that struck down laws banning same-sex intimacy.

Last Friday, the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade, which removes the constitutional right to an abortion.

Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the Supreme Judges who voted to overturn Roe vs Wade, has since said the court should revisit other precedents like Obergefell vs Hodge and Lawrence vs Texas. (The right to marriage equality and same-sex intimacy, respectively.)

President Joe Biden and Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have warned that Republicans will go after the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage next.

On Friday (24 June), after news broke that abortion protections were upended, Paxton went on NewsNation’s On Balance with Leland Vittert to speak about the potential of further rulings.

A clip of the state attorney general’s answers circulated online and was shared by American Bridge, a political action group calling out Republicans.

Host Leland Vittert asked Paxton: “Would you as Attorney General be comfortable defending a law that once again outlawed sodomy? That questioned Lawrence again, or Griswold, or gay marriage, that came from the state legislature? To put to the test what Justice Thomas said?”

Paxton answered: “Yeah, I mean, there’s all kinds of issues here. But certainly, the Supreme Court has stepped into issues that I don’t think there was any constitutional provision dealing with.

“They were legislative issues and this is one of those issues and there may be more. […] So it would depend on the issue and dependent on what state law had said at the time.”

Though the Lawrence vs Texas case saw the court ruling against the state of Texas regarding a 1973 law that criminalises sodomy, the ban was not removed from the state’s penal code.

If the Supreme Court overturned Lawrence vs Texas, 16 states have laws banning sodomy that would immediately go into effect.

When pressed by Vittert as to whether he would defend the case and take it back to the Supreme Court, Paxton said “my job is to defend state law and I’ll continue to do that” and that he is “certainly willing and able to do that.”

Paxton noted that “this is all new territory for us” and that any decision on defence would depend on how the Texan state legislature was laid out. Concluding, he said: “Ultimately, if it’s constitutional, we’re going to go defend it.”

Paxton’s statements were quickly responded to by his Democratic opponent Rochelle Garza.

“Roe was just the first — they won’t stop till they roll back all of our civil rights,” Garza tweeted.

“We MUST kick Ken Paxton out of office this Nov. When I’m Attorney General, Texans will have a Civil Rights Division to protect ALL of our rights. Y’all means all. Period.”