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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Law Banning Gay Sex

Aired June 26, 2003 - 10:14   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: At this point we want to bring in former U.S. attorney Kendall Coffey to help us understand exactly what has happened here.
Hello to you, Kendall. Thanks for being with us.

KENDALL COFFEY. FMR. U.S. ATTY.: Hey, good morning.

COLLINS: Tell us what we've just heard here today. That I think was expecting. In fact, in 1996, the same justice, Justice Kennedy, wrote an opinion that struck down as unconstitutional, irrational, discriminatory, various laws in Colorado that were being proposed with a discriminatory object toward gays, same 6-3 margin. My speculation would be that Justices Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas, who were on the dissenting opinion in 1996, are on the dissenting opinion today.

But the key thing goes beyond the Texas sodomy law or even the laws in a couple other states. And that is to analyze to what extent does this opinion revise the landscape, not only with respect to privacy rights of all adults, but specifically recognizing the evolution in our culture with respect to same-sex couples, and I think that's the broad issue that we won't begin to understand until we have a chance to look at the opinion.

COLLINS: Well, so what you're saying, then, it's possible that the court could actually be moving in the direction of seeing homosexuals the same as heterosexuals?

COFFEY: Well, I think that's an important thing to look for, because in 1986, when the Supreme Court applied a sodomy law against a same-sex couple in Georgia, they specifically said that there was no relation between family, between child rearing and homosexual activity.

In the last census, there were at least 600,000 same-sex couples found in this country. no doubt meaning more actually exist. And what I think it's important to do is recognize that there has been a change, and when we study the opinion, we will see if this court now recognizes that same-sex couples have a role with respect to family, have a role with respect to raising children. A point of controversy, but obviously one of the key things to look for.

COLLINS: What about the morality side of this? We just heard from a reverend who is -- represents the National Clergy Council. There is going to be much more discussion on that side of things as well. COFFEY: Well, I'm sure this opinion is written in a way that does not mean that bigamy laws, adultery laws, laws with respect to prosecution are now things that consenting adults can do with or without approval of the states. This is going to be written narrowly. But I think what you're going to see is that for morality to be used as a basis to discriminate against a group that the legislature disfavors for some reason, there needs to be more than simply invoking the name of morality. You have to show some legitimate purpose, some societal harm that is implicated by the conduct that the state is seeking to outlaw.

COLLINS: All right, Kendall Coffey, thanks so much for your insights in all of this. I'm sure we'll be checking in with you throughout the day.

Also want to let you know we will be checking in with our CNN correspondent Bob Franken. He actually with us right now. We're going to go back to the Supreme Court to hear what he has to say.

Hey, Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Heidi.

The larger effect of this ruling is to knock down sodomy laws whether they apply only to homosexuals or not. I'm now reading from the opinion that was written by Justice Kennedy, and he talks about Bowers. Bowers was the case in 1986, which was decided in Georgia, saying that there could be anti-sodomy laws. Here's what he said "Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today." He said that even there is a principle called saris decisus (ph), which is the court had already decided, it was time to overturn that. That was 1986 when that ruling came out. In the year 2003, Justice Kennedy said that this had to be overturned, that Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and that it's not correct now. That, in effect, the due process aspect of this means that people have a right to the privacy of their bedrooms, when they're deciding what type of sex to engage in -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right, Bob Franken, we'll check back with you should anything else come out of that decision.

Thanks so much, Bob.

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