Judge who first struck down Texas anti-sodomy law dies

Posted on 21 Sep 2009 at 3:52pm

Word came this afternoon that Judge Jerry Buchmeyer, the federal district court Carter appointee who gained fame (or notoriety) when he struck down Texas’ anti-sodomy law — only to see it reinstated — has died. Buchmeyer was the judge assigned to the Baker case, which challenged the law on equal protection grounds in 1981.  In 1982, Buchmeyer declared the law unconstitutional, noting, “Homosexuals are not ill or mentally diseased… Homosexuality is not communicable… There is simply no rational connection between the acts proscribed by [the law] and the claimed interests of morality, decency, health, welfare, safety and procreation.” 

He became a hero to the gay community. (It was nice of Buchmeyer to wait until Pride was over to pass — he was often cited during early Pride parades.) But that victory was short-lived, as the Fifth Circuit eventually overruled him and reinstated the law.

But this is how I felt about Buchmeyer: When I was set to be admitted to practice before the Northern District of Texas Federal Court, I had to be sworn in and approved by a sitting federal judge.

I chose Buchmeyer.

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