Hours After U.S. Supreme Court Hears Case Challenging Texas Sodomy Law, Community will Gather for Town Hall Meeting

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Lambda Legal and Gay Groups Hold Forum on the Evening of March 26 on Sodomy Laws and How the Case Could Impact Civil Rights Broadly
March 21, 2003

(Arlington, VA, March 20, 2003) - After arguing its case against Texas’s “Homosexual Conduct” law at the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund will hold a town hall meeting to discuss the case and its potential impact with community members and civil rights leaders. The forum is set for Wednesday night, March 26, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in Arlington. “This case is tremendously important for gay people everywhere, and Lambda Legal’s national leadership will share insight and analysis on the court activities of the day,” said Hector Vargas, Director of Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta. ”We are excited to share this historic moment with our friends in Northern Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland.” The program will feature Kevin Cathcart, Lambda Legal’s Executive Director and Linda Kaufman, an Arlington resident whose application for adoption was denied by the state of Virginia because she is a lesbian and considered by the state to be in violation of Virginia’s sodomy law. Dyana Mason, Executive Director of town hall co-presenter Equality Virginia, also will address the town hall. Virginia’s sodomy law applies to both heterosexual and homosexual couples, but as is often the case, it is used almost exclusively against gay men and lesbians. In the Supreme Court case against the Texas law, Lambda Legal represents John Lawrence and Tyron Garner, who were arrested in Lawrence's Houston home and jailed overnight after officers responding to a false report found the men engaged in private, consensual sex. Once convicted, they were forced to pay fines, are now considered sex offenders in several states and are disqualified from working in dozens of professions. Texas’s “Homosexual Conduct” law criminalizes oral and anal sex by consenting gay couples and is used widely to justify discrimination against lesbians and gay men. On March 26, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether the Texas law violates the federal Constitution's guarantee that laws must protect and apply to people equally, as well as whether it violates the right to privacy. Co-sponsors of the event include Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance, Equality Fairfax, Log Cabin Republicans of Northern Virginia, PFLAG Metro DC, Virginia Partisans, Human Rights Campaign, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, PFLAG National. Wednesday night’s forum is part of a series of presentations Lambda Legal is hosting in all 13 states that still have sodomy laws. In partnership with a wide range of organizations, the community meetings will help educate the public about the harms sodomy laws cause and empower people to help fight these laws. The meeting will be on Wednesday night, March 26. It runs from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. and will take place at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Conference Center, 4301 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA.

What: Town hall meeting to discuss U.S. Supreme Court case challenging Texas’s “Homosexual Conduct” law.

When: Wednesday March 26, 2003, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Where: National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Conference Center, 4301 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, Virginia.

Contact: Hector Vargas-Lambda Regional Dir., 404-897-1880 ext: 24; Lisa Hardaway, 212/809-8585 ext. 266



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