GLAD et al. v. Attorney General Thomas Reilly et al
In 2002, a year before the Supreme Court’s Lawrence v. Texas ruling declared all state laws criminalizing private consensual same-sex intimacy unconstitutional under the US Constitution, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court made clear that Massachusetts’ sodomy laws can never again be used against consenting adults sharing intimacy in private.
GLAD won a declaration from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that neither of the state’s sodomy laws applies to private, adult, consensual conduct. GLAD filed suit on behalf of itself and several individual gay and non-gay plaintiffs, challenging the constitutionality of the Massachusetts sodomy laws. The complaint alleged that the sodomy laws (including a 20-year felony for anal sex and 5-year felony for oral and anal sex) violate Massachusetts constitutional guarantees of privacy, equal protection, free speech, and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.
Following a hearing in December, 2001, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in February 2002 that the laws may not be enforced against persons who are engaged in the prohibited forms of intimacy as long as the individuals did not intend public exposure. The court technically dismissed the case because none of the plaintiffs were currently subject to prosecution, but its ruling makes clear that these laws can never again be used against consenting adults sharing intimacy in private.