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LAWRENCE v. TEXAS

by Mitchell Katine, Local Counsel for John Lawrence and Tyron Garner

In 1998 homosexual conduct was a crime in Texas. Although few people were ever arrested for violating Texas Penal Code 21.06 (Homosexual Conduct,) LGBT individuals were often stigmatized and identified as being criminals. The discrimination ranged from custody cases, employment termination, political name-calling and being generally ostracized by society.

On September 28, 1998, John Lawrence and Tyron Garner were arrested for violating the homosexual conduct statue. No other charges were asserted against them. The two men were taken from John Lawrence's home in the middle of the night and put in jail for a period of approximately 24 hours.

The Lawrence v. Texas case lost in every Texas court in its 5-year journey to the Supreme Court, but ultimately won. Their arrest began a courageous legal battle which ended in 2003 at the United States Supreme Court in the landmark LGBT decision known as Lawrence v. Texas.

The Lawrence decision declared all sodomy statutes throughout the United States unconstitutional, overturned the 16-year erroneous Supreme Court decision known as Bowers v. Hardwick, opened the door for the marriage equality movement and ended the discriminatory "don't ask don't tell policy."

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion for the Court and declared never before recognized rights for gay and lesbian individuals to dignify their lives
and relationships and the right to self-determination without interference of
the government.

John Lawrence and Tyron Garner have since passed away; but lived many years after the decision and enjoyed traveling around the country speaking at universities and law schools. They should be recognized for their courage in standing up for what they believed was wrong, even in the face of great odds. John Lawrence and Tyron Garner will go down in history as two men who enabled the marriage equality movement in this country.

          

Link to Photos & Audio from the Press Conference and Rally