Reps. Takano, Garcia, Pappas, Jones, Porter, and Evans and Sens. Schatz, Blumenthal, and Hirono Introduce the Right to Private Conduct Act
Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Mark Takano (D-CA), Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Katie Porter (D-CA), and Dwight Evans (D-PA), and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced the Right to Private Conduct Act, a bill to protect the rights to privacy and liberty granted by the Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. Texas. This legislation would prevent any person acting under color of State law from inhibiting an individual’s right to engage in private, non-commercial, consensual sexual conduct between adults.
“The Supreme Court has grown senseless in their attacks on our rights. As it stands, millions of Americans could see a rollback of their protected rights to make their own personal decisions about fundamentally private matters,” said. Rep. Mark Takano. “While the threat to reconsider the current interpretations of privacy and liberty affects everyone, it disproportionately affects the LGBTQ+ community. The government has no right to interfere in the sexual relations of any consenting adult, and the Right to Private Conduct Act will finally enshrine this belief into federal law.”
“Our bill makes one thing clear: what goes on between consenting adults in their private lives is their business, not the government’s,” said Senator Schatz.
“The government has no business telling someone who they can or can’t love,” said Rep. Sylvia Garcia. “Enshrining Lawrence v. Texas into federal law is essential to protecting Americans’ inalienable right to their private life. It will ensure state governments across the union stay where they belong — outside of people’s homes and their private lives.”
“The Dobbs decision was a devastating blow to Americans’ health and poses a continued threat to the hard-earned freedoms we all enjoy,” said Rep. Chris Pappas. “The right to privacy is fundamental and we must act to protect it from politicians and judges who seek to undermine it. This legislation will ensure we safeguard the ability of Americans to live their own lives without government interference.”
“The far-right Supreme Court is on a rampage against the basic freedoms of the American people. Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion in Dobbs made clear that the right to privacy — our right to love and express that love, freely and without persecution — is next on the chopping block,” said Rep. Mondaire Jones. “That’s why I’m proud to introduce the Right to Private Conduct Act with my colleagues to protect Lawrence v. Texas and ensure every American has the right to sexual intimacy, including same-sex intimacy.”
“Consenting adults should have the freedom to make private decisions without interference from politicians,” said Rep. Katie Porter. “The Supreme Court has joined with extremist legislators to impose their personal views on families across this country, and at least one justice has indicated that he would target LGBTQI+ Americans next. I am proud to work with colleagues in Congress to protect the liberty of all Americans to make decisions about their own bodies.”
“So-called ‘sodomy’ laws were used to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans and to enable harassment by police – literal ‘cops in the bedrooms.’ Some of the laws also criminalized conduct by opposite-sex couples. All of those laws – some of which are still on the books – were gross violations of Americans’ basic rights,” said Rep. Dwight Evans. “I’m proud to stand with America’s pro-privacy, pro-LGBTQ majority, especially during a time when personal rights and freedoms are increasingly under attack.”
“This measure will counter the Supreme Court’s ongoing attacks on privacy and personal freedom. As extreme justices and judges attempt to roll-back the ability of Americans to make their own decisions about their bodies and their futures, I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Right to Private Conduct Act,” said Senator Blumenthal. “This legislation will protect all Americans, including the LGBTQ+ community, from invasive government overreach in Americans’ most personal, intimate decisions.”
“As the far-right majority on the Supreme Court works to overturn fundamental rights, this legislation will protect the right to privacy for consenting adults,” said Senator Hirono.
The landmark Lawrence v. Texas ruling established the right of all adult couples to be free from unwarranted state intrusion into their personal decisions about consensual sexual relationships; a major victory for civil rights that invalidated arcane sodomy laws and paved the way for marriage equality. Prior to Lawrence, sodomy laws allowed law enforcement and community members to violate individual privacy by reporting suspected sexual activity. Although the policing of private spaces affected all individuals and couples, sodomy laws disproportionately targeted and criminalized members of the LGBTQ community, barring individuals from access to employment, housing, parental rights, adoption and foster parenting, and protection from to civil rights law.
In the years since the ruling, Lawrence has served as a cornerstone of the emerging legal field of sexual privacy, one which governs laws regarding sexual autonomy, consent, intimacy, and human dignity. In this era of increased concerns surrounding data privacy, it is critical that all Americans maintain those protected rights.
This bill has been endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union, PFLAG, and the National Center for Transgender Equality.
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