Houston Democrat Jessica Farrar has filed HB 1701 to remove Texas’ “homosexual conduct” law from the Texas Penal Code.
Despite the U.S. Supreme Court finding the law unconstitutional in the 2003 case Lawrence v. Texas, the law remains on the books as a misdemeanor offense, even though it is not enforceable.
State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, who has filed the bill every session since the law was found unconstitutional, said he planned to file the legislation again this year.
State Sen. Jose Rodriquez, D-El Paso, filed the companion bill, SB 538, earlier this month. It has been assigned to the State Affairs Committee.
“There is absolutely no justification for this antiquated and unconstitutional provision to remain on the books,” Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said. “It is past time for this relic of the past to be repealed from the Texas Penal Code.”
Read the full release below.
State Representative Jessica Farrar Files HB 1701 to Repeal the Unconstitutional §21.06 of the Texas Penal Code
Austin, Texas (February 25, 2013) – Texas State Representative Jessica Farrar of Houston (D-148) has filed HB 1701 to repeal §21.06 of the Texas Penal Code, which lists “homosexual conduct” as a misdemeanor crime.
This section of the Texas Penal Code was ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in its 2003 decision, Lawrence v. Texas.
Although unenforceable and unconstitutional, the state of Texas has refused to remove §21.06 from the books.
This antiquated law has been misused by untrained law enforcement officials to mistreat and harass Texas citizens. In addition to repealing §21.06 from the books, HB 1701 would also remove from the Texas Health and Safety Code the statement, “homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense under Section 21.06, Penal Code.”
“There is absolutely no justification for this antiquated and unconstitutional provision to remain on the books,” said Chuck Smith, Executive Director at Equality Texas. “It is past time for this relic of the past to be repealed from the Texas Penal Code,” Smith said.
HB 1701 is identical to its Senate companion bill, SB 538, which was filed on February 13th by State Senator José Rodriguez of El Paso. SB 538 has been referred to the Senate Committee on State Affairs.
Please contact your State Senator and ask them to support SB 538 by Senator Rodriguez and contact your State Representative and ask them to support HB 1701 by Representative Farrar. If you don’t know who your elected officials are, you can find them here.