Federal judge: Sodomy ruling doesn't protect gays from 'hatred, contempt or ridicule'

Posted on 23 Feb 2010 at 10:22am

Over at Unfair Park, Robert Wilonsky gives us an update on a lawsuit brought by a former Love Field security guard who claims he lost his job after Dallas radio host Rickey Smiley accused him of being gay on the air last year. Plaintiff Henry Robinson says he’s straight, and as such, he claims Smiley’s statements were defamatory. Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor denied Smiley’s motion to dismiss Robinson’s lawsuit, and in doing so the judge raised an interesting question.

In his ruling, O’Connor notes that in Texas, “the imputation of homosexuality has historically been defamatory per se as it imputes the crime of sodomy.” However, he adds that, “No case appears to address whether imputation of homosexuality continues to be defamatory as a matter of law in the wake of Lawrence (the U.S. Supreme’s Court’s 2003 ruling overturning the state’s sodomy statute].” But O’Connor concludes that, “At a minimum, though, judicial caution requires the court to acknowledge that the imputation of homosexuality might as a matter of fact expose a person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule.”

So, in other words, even conservative judges like O’Connor (a George W. Bush appointee) acknowledge that being gay exposes people to hatred and discrimination. But why is this fact only brought up in the context of a straight person suing someone for accusing them of being gay? Shouldn’t this be grounds for equal rights and protections under the law? Or, as “John M.” puts it in the comments to Wilonsky’s post, “If we are going to acknowledge that homosexuality expose(s) a person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule, it seems kind of hard to defend the idea that things like marriage equality are only a matter of tradition and not the result of said hatred, contempt and ridicule.”

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