The US Supreme Court has overruled the Texan law which allowed the state to punish homosexuals for having sex.
Two men brought the case after being caught having sex on private premises in 1998. They said the law infringed their right to privacy.
The verdict will be tricky for the Texan George W. Bush to comment upon, as if he supports homosexuality he will offend many of his core supporters - but if he opposes the new ruling he will alienate more liberal voters in next year's elections.
Should the law be changed across all the states? What do you think George Bush will say on the ruling?
Thank you for your e-mails. This debate is now closed. The following comments reflect the balance of views we received:
What is done in the privacy of your own home, between consenting adults is no ones concern.
The law of the land should reflect a basic moral code. As homosexuality is a perversion of God's will it should be illegal. The US Supreme Court should never have overturned the legislation; homosexuality should never be legal in any country.
The law of the land should reflect a basic moral code
Whatever happened to self rule? The people of Texas spoke and then an arrogant group of judges told them they were too stupid to govern themselves.
True the founding fathers of America probably would have been appalled by this ruling, but then their social climate was very different from our own. If two consenting adults wish to perform whatever sexual act pleases them, then allow it! Respect their right to privacy and choice.
Jon Cording, UK
Gay people would have continued having sex whether the ban was removed or not. Do you think it is possible to stop a whole sector of the population participating in such a necessary part of life? Such a law is akin to banning black people from eating after dark. It is ridiculous.
Gay people would have continued having sex whether the ban was removed or not
I'm not against or for homosexuality but to punish someone for expressing the way they feel towards someone else, be it they are of the same sex, age or race is completely wrong.
Nathan Hudson, UK
The right wing has suffered a serious blow even though they are not accepting it at this point. The so-called sodomy laws should have never made it to the books in the first place. Oh! By the way, who are the justices who voted in favour? Thank you.
Perrywood, Maryland, US
I weep for my country. How can an act as immoral as sodomy be declared constitutional, when our founders, if asked, would have been appalled at such acts? When interpreting the constitution, the court should consider what the people who wrote it meant and intended. May God bless America even though we are slipping further and further from His law.
Our founders would have been appalled
I think it is great. The US needs to open up to alternative lifestyles and move away from its puritanical roots. If I wanted religious fanatics telling me what to do I would move abroad.
Joe, KCMO, USA
Since the verdict was made from the privacy context it concerns me that some would take advantage of this situation to promote polygamy under the cover of their privacy rights.
think the UN should include freedom of sexual orientation among basic human rights! I'm sorry, but I don't really care what George Bush will say.
Max Brenner, Brazil
Yes, this ruling affects gay couples; it also affects straight couples. Nine of those 14 states prohibited "sodomy" between all consenting adults, including married couples. Of course, these laws only ever seem to be enforced against gays. Selective enforcement alone was a major problem with those laws.
It also affects straight couples
Banning sodomy amongst homosexuals protects nobody; it only victimises. What purpose, other than furthering the religious rights' agenda, does this serve?
The court has finally recognised what many people have realised for a long time: That you can not legislate morality. I hope President Bush has enough sense to realise that, if he chooses to comment.
Dave, Houston, Texas US
I genuinely hadn't realised how many US states outlawed sodomy or gay sex in general. And they have the nerve to call it the Land of the Free... what a joke!
Joseph Craig, UK
its about time that gay Americans get equal treatment. They pay taxes and die in wars so they deserve fair treatment. As for Texas, welcome to modern times.
A landmark decision, but so were many other decisions that have resulted in the uprising of sexual promiscuity among our youth. We are the most educated people in the world, but our education has taught our youth nothing of the respect of life or its decency. We have affirmed hedonism as the highest goal without even knowing the definition of the very word. No, I do not support it, but only suffer it.
I was born and raised in Texas and I always thought the law was ridiculous. I'm very pleased with the ruling and I hope it sends a message to other states that making homosexuality illegal is preposterous.
Making homosexuality illegal is preposterous
Stacey Turner, England (ex-USA)
Stacey Turner, England (ex-USA)
I have no problem with gay couples, but the government should only give tax benefits to couples that can produce children.
It goes deeper than this: Laws punishing people for having homosexual sex reflect the ignorant and antiquated attitude that being homosexual is somehow a "choice". When are people going to wake up and stop treating homosexuals as dangerous subversives? The really dangerous people are the bigots. Are there any laws punishing us heterosexuals for having sex? Why is this even an issue?
Right and wrong, or good and evil, are not dependent upon man's interpretations and attitudes. Social acceptance does not change the status of an act, making wrong into right. If everyone in the world were to accept homosexuality, as it seems to have been in Sodom and Gomorra, the practice would still be a dark sin.
Social acceptance does not change the status of an act
I thought America was the land of the free. Considering the ongoing threat to national security, I really would have thought the American police would have better things to do than spy on two blokes.
Rik, N. Ireland
Though I support gay rights as well as this verdict, I fear that it may pave the way for gay marriages to be recognized as a holy bond, which I think would then have an adverse effect on the whole family structure as we know it. The only question is where to draw the line. As far as I am concerned, the Canadian Government is treading that thin line, and the US appears to be following suit.
I just wonder if Bush will react to this ruling with the same tact and diplomacy as he reacted to the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Will he view this ruling as an assault on the morals of the nation by a group of perverts, or will he see it for what it really is: A long awaited liberation? Three hearty cheers for this ruling.
Bush will say nothing about this ruling, though I'd love to hear what sort of comment he would make, if only for a laugh.
John McDonagh, USA
In a strictly legal sense, this case undermines the constitutionality of all sorts of morality-based law in the US. For instance, the "right to privacy in the bedroom" can be extended to prostitution - it is, after all, intercourse between two consenting adults. Many laws regulating public morals can be overturned on the basis of this ruling. I'm not so sure there wasn't a better way to get the Texas law repealed.
The right to privacy in the bedroom can be extended to prostitution
Since when did the US Supreme Court become the representative of communities' moral standards? Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but not one of the Justices on the Supreme Court today are residents of Texas. How can they presume to know what the moral majority in that state believe in?
JM, US asks "Since when did the US Supreme Court become the representative of communities' moral standards?". The answer is since the end of slavery in the US. Since the end of segregation in schools and public facilities in the US. Since the right of women to vote was acknowledged. You are first a US citizen and second a citizen of your state, like it or not. The Supreme Court, in this case, is morally and ethically correct.
To JM, US: The fundamental human right of freedom and privacy is the foundation of the country in which you live. It is also one of the alleged - and more palatable - reasons Iraq has just been invaded. So yes, the Supreme Court not only has a right to pass this judgement but a humanitarian duty.
While I tend to agree with the legal ruling, what is to become of laws that focus on the preservation of morality such as anti-pornography and incest laws? If people can do whatever they desire behind closed doors, then many of our existing laws are also unconstitutional.
This is hopefully the first of many steps that will result in my partner and I having the right marry and enjoy the same privileges that our parents enjoyed.
Bryan, Venice, FL USA
The ruling seems too broad and misguided to me. People do NOT have the right to do anything they wish behind closed doors. Assisted suicide, bigamy, incest, and many other things are rightfully against the law. What specifics differentiate sodomy to allow it to be free from legal restrictions?
It's only symbolic. Every state has some ridiculous laws in place since the 19th century that no-one knows about, can't enforce, and are simply meaningless.
A lot of us anti-war protesters keep hearing that our soldiers and sailors are fighting for our freedoms, yet gay and lesbian Americans have suffered from the hypocrisy of American politics' intrusive and arbitrary laws regulating the most intimate aspects of our private lives. Finally, it's good to see the United States Government doing what our Constitution promises: Treating everyone equal under the law. The arguments for sodomy laws sadly remain in the Dark Ages and are incompatible with the values upon which this country so often claims to have been founded.
Gay and lesbian Americans have suffered from the hypocrisy of American politics' intrusive and arbitrary laws
Lonnie Lopez, USA
It's about time Americans woke up and focused on things that affect the world rather than who sleeps with whom.
I am surprised we even have laws for sexual conduct between two consenting adults. It is a waste of time to create them let alone enforce them.
Phil Habib, USA
Just because the overall "fashion" concerning this issue in the US is swinging one way does not mean the federal government should step in. It should be up to individual states to make this type of judgement.
David B, MA, USA
I'm a 22-year-old gay resident of Kansas, one of the four states specifically targeting homosexuals in its various sex laws. Kansas will undoubtedly be affected by this ruling. Beyond the decriminalisation of a homosexual's own private sexual conduct, this will hopefully set a precedent against other laws and discrimination that affect gays and lesbians in the United States.
This ruling so closely following the appointment of a gay bishop in the UK sends out entirely the wrong message to the rest of the world about morality in the West.
This is just more evidence of the depraved state into which this once great nation has fallen. And what is worse it exports this, feminism, pornography, violent films and all the rest of it. It's all reminiscent of other civilisations in decline.
Jim Williams, Australia
I'm delighted that the Supreme Court has struck down this ridiculous, outdated law. I should add that, as a married person, neither myself nor my husband feel that equal rights (including gay marriage) for gay couples undermines heterosexual marriage in any way.
Hopefully this ruling will be the start of a new era for gay and lesbian rights in the US.
This will be a new era for gay and lesbian rights in the US
It is interesting that we have time to make laws about sexual behaviour but no time to educate in schools about the consequences and risks.
Right decision. What right does the government have to tell adults what to do?
Getting the laws out of our bedrooms is long overdue, but it should be pointed out that this law had been largely ignored for decades until the case that prompted this suit. I don't see why Bush would bother commenting on it, it's not as if homosexuality was an issue in his campaign... I really don't think he's focused on it one way or another.
Fred Barnes, Dallas TX, USA
I'm a conservative Republican who believes the Constitution gives every American the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, I believe the latest Supreme Court ruling to be constitutional.
I believe the latest Supreme Court ruling to be constitutional
As a young homosexual growing up in a working class suburb, I had to endure a lot of discrimination from my schoolmates and in the workforce. Therefore I can sympathise with the two men in Texas whose right to privacy was clearly violated in this case. What consenting adults do behind closed doors should be their personal business, not the government's or police's. It's time Texas joined the 21st Century, and recognized that homosexuals have rights too.
This ruling, in effect, has already changed the laws across the states. It will overturn all of them. The Supreme Court has taken a brave step to keep government out of the bedroom. President Bush will probably say as little as possible on the matter. We have an election year coming up and he can't afford to offend anyone. I'm very happy! Today is a great day to be gay in America!
Mr Sandy Clark, San Francisco, USA
This is a long overdue step towards modernising this country's antiquated and puritanical laws.
Americans who believe in the constitution must support gay rights and come out against affirmative action. Although there are already thousands of unconstitutional laws on the books, banning homosexual sex remains as unconstitutional as upholding affirmative action. Both violate constitutional ammendments.
This isn't as big a deal as people seem to think. The laws banning sodomy are old, obsolete state laws that no one pays much attention to outside of rape cases, and are usually either struck down by the courts or abrogated by state governments as soon as someone makes an issue out of it, as happened in this case. As for Bush, whatever he'll say on the issue will probably come out with his usual "eloquence".
This isn't as big a deal as people seem to think
I have to disagree with Jeremy from Canada in his assessment that the Court's decision won't have a far-reaching effect. Yes, there are tons of antiquated laws on the books (my friend who was a policeman in Minnesota said it's technically illegal to have a red car in Minneapolis, for example). While the sodomy laws are old, obsolete, and rarely enforced as Jeremy indicated, the fact is that this case came about precisely because a couple of police officers in Texas chose to enforce the laws.
I think this behaviour should be outlawed. This country should never listen to the rest of the world and follow its own course. America should lead and not follow.
Ralph Hunt, Tennessee, USA
About time. "Texas defended its sodomy law by saying it helped to protect marriage and child-rearing." How on earth did it do that? What were the divorce rates before this law and after?
As to the comment here that "this behaviour should be outlawed" and that "America should never listen to the rest of the world and follow its own course"; this kind of mentality is exactly what makes people in other countries shudder.
Ian Tanner, Australia
W won't say anything about the ruling. I think he knows that the court's word is final on these matters and he accepts the system of checks and balances. As far as applying the rule to other states, I don't see how, as a matter of law, this doesn't strike down every anti-sodomy law on the books in the United States. Which State Attorney General is going to enforce a law he/she knows is against today's ruling? None, I would suppose.
I am a right-wing heterosexual white male living in the US and I think this verdict is long overdue. Outside of hurting someone by your actions the government should stay out of our homes and bedrooms.
Redondo Beach, US
Bush will say whatever the people with the money would like him to say. Just like always.
Ian, Brit in USA