Even America’s worst senator wants to repeal Texas’ gay sex ban

Republican Ted Cruz says “consenting adults should be able to do what they wish in their private sexual activity”

Proving a broken clock is right twice a day, one of the most homophobic senators in the U.S. is calling to overturn Texas’ defunct sodomy ban.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) voiced his support for repealing a 1973 statute outlawing oral and anal intercourse between same-sex partners last week. Until the time of the law’s passage, those sex acts had been criminalized for people of all genders, but Texas lawmakers effectively legalized them for heterosexual couples. Although the U.S. Supreme Court effectively struck down the law in the landmark 2003 ruling Lawrence v. Texas, Texas has yet to remove it from the books.

In a statement issued through his team, Cruz quoted Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas’s dissenting opinion in the Lawrence case, calling the law “uncommonly silly.” “Consenting adults should be able to do what they wish in their private sexual activity, and government has no business in their bedrooms,” a spokesperson for the senator told The Dallas Morning News.

Cruz was the only prominent Republican in Texas to call for decriminalizing acts of same-sex intimacy in the state. Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) all declined to respond to the newspaper’s inquiries regarding the law.

At least one GOP leader in the Lone Star State has come out in support of keeping the statute in place: Attorney General Ken Paxton. After Thomas called to revisit Lawrence—which decriminalized sodomy in all 50 U.S. states—in a concurring opinion issued alongside the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Paxton told the cable TV network NewsNation that his “job is to defend state law.” He affirmed that he would “continue to do that.”

It’s surprising that Cruz would be the lone conservative to express support for an LGBTQ2S+ rights issue, given that he has seldom been a friend to the community in the past. The second-term federal lawmaker consistently scores a zero on the annual Congressional Scorecard from the Human Rights Campaign, indicating that he opposes virtually every pro-LGBTQ2S+ bill that crosses his desk.

Cruz is a vocal opponent of marriage equality, calling the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges “among the darkest hours of our nation.” After Thomas’s opinion in the Roe repeal stoked fears that SCOTUS would come after LGBTQ2+ rights next, Cruz reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Obergefell, like Roe v. Wade, ignored two centuries of our nation’s history,” Cruz said on his podcast, The Cloakroom, last month. “Marriage was always an issue that was left to the states. We saw states before Obergefell, some states were moving to allow gay marriage, other states were moving to allow civil partnerships. There were different standards that the states were adopting.”

 

The congressman has also supported legislation that would allow businesses to refuse service to LGBTQ2S+ customers on the basis of faith and opposes trans-affirming restroom access, claiming it “opens the door for predators.” While running for president in 2016, Cruz urged trans people to use the bathroom at home.

Should the Supreme Court elect to overturn Lawrence v. Texas in the coming years, Texas is one of at least 11 states with sodomy bans still on the books—including Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Carolina. 

While some of those states are liberal-leaning and would likely repeal their outdated statutes (Massachusetts and Minnesota, for example), Texas is not one of them. In an official platform ratified earlier this year, the Texas Republican Party adopted language opposing the “granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behaviour, regardless of state of origin.” The platform also referred to LGBTQ2S+ people as “abnormal” and called for a ban on gender-affirming medical care. 

Nico Lang

Nico Lang is an award-winning reporter and editor, and former contributing editor at Xtra. Their work has been featured in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, Washington Post, Vox, BuzzFeed, Jezebel, The Guardian, Out, The Advocate, and the L.A. Times.

Keep Reading

A young person in a black T-shirt looks at a smartphone. Behind them are a subtle maple leaf and Pride flag colours.

After 1 Million March, LGBTQ2S+ youth face rise in bullying and fear of outing 

Youth in Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan have reported an increase in harassment and mental distress since September

Alberta town to vote on banning Pride flags and rainbow crosswalks

If passed, Westlock would be the first town in Alberta with such a bylaw. The move echoes similar attempts in the U.S. to ban Pride flags in schools and government buildings

Poilievre’s concern over press freedom is just dystopian world-building

OPINION: In his false, bifurcated view of reality, queer and trans people are treated as villains
Blue background with a classroom in it with hands passing a document over top.

Far-right groups turning to ‘lawfare’ tactic to push back against LGBTQ2S+ curriculum

Experts say the tactic is more about intimidation than legal enforceability