WASHINGTON ? The Supreme Court said Monday it would consider whether states can punish homosexuals for having sex, a case that tests the constitutionality of sodomy laws in 13 states, including Virginia.
The justices will review the prosecution of two men under a 28-year-old Texas law making it a crime to engage in same-sex intercourse.
The Supreme Court has struggled with how much protection the Constitution offers in the bedroom. The court ruled 5-4 in 1986 that consenting adults have no constitutional right to private homosexual sex, upholding laws that ban sodomy.
The court faces several questions in the latest case. Among them: Is it an unconstitutional invasion of privacy for couples to be prosecuted for what they do in their own homes? Is it unconstitutional for states to treat gays and lesbians differently by punishing them for having sex while allowing heterosexual couples to engage in the same acts without penalties?
Sodomy is defined as abnormal sex, in some states including anal and oral sex.
Nine states ban consensual sodomy for everyone: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.
In addition, Texas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma punish only homosexual sod
States argue that the laws, some dating back more than 100 years, are intended to preserve public morals. The laws are rarely enforced.