Gay-Contact Ban Hits Montana High Court
Murray, Frank J., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Montana will ask its state Supreme Court today to revive a law forbidding consensual homosexual contact that includes "heavy petting" - and lawyers will argue the case for national television.
State Solicitor Clay R. Smith seeks to overturn a sweeping district court ruling that blocks any enforcement against "homosexual activity if that activity is consensual, done in private and engaged in by adults."
In an opinion filled with personal observations that don't reflect the law or the case record, Judge Jeffrey Sherlock ruled the nation's toughest law against homosexual contact conflicts with the nation's most permissive state constitution privacy clause.
"Since plaintiffs' activities do not harm anyone, it is hard to understand why anyone needs to be concerned with what these people do in private or why anyone would want to deny them the privacy to conduct their activities in a way that does not affect anyone else," Judge Sherlock wrote.
While his opinion did not address the risk of AIDS, he said Montanans cherish privacy in such matters despite "fancy law review articles, exalted philosophers or the hard to understand writing of some federal or state courts."
His opinion will be defended by Rosemary Daszkiewicz of Northwest Women's Law Center in Seattle. She assisted Helena lawyer Holly Franz during two years of litigating the case brought by Linda M. Gryczan and five other homosexuals against the state of Montana.
"It's probably a cause for me," said Miss Franz, who also lobbies for changes in laws affecting homosexuals and belittles the state assertion that fear of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine does not injure her three male and three female clients who say they violated the law and intend to do so again.
Without independent corroborating evidence, such admissions are not enough to justify prosecution in Montana. …