One of the most important & pivotal moments in gay history happened on this day, June 25, in 1998. John Lawrence & Tyron Garner were arrested in Lawrence’s Houston home & jailed overnight after officers responding to a false report found the 2 men having sex. Lawrence & garner were convicted of violating Texas’s Homosexual Conduct law, which made it a crime for 2 people of the same sex to have oral or anal sex, even though those sex acts were legal in Texas for people to engage in with persons of a different sex.
Lambda Legal quickly responded & agreed to represent Lawrence & Garner. Battling for years in the Texas courts, LAMDA sought to overturn the criminal convictions, which made the 2 men registrable “sex offenders” & to have Texas’s law declared unconstitutional. When the highest court in Texas eventually refused to even hear the arguments, the US Supreme Court to took the case.
On this day in 2003, in a stunning victory, the highest court in the land found the Homosexual Conduct law unconstitutional & established, for the 1st time ever, that gay citizens share the same fundamental right to private sexual intimacy with another adult that straight people have.
Antiquated sodomy laws often have often been used to justify discrimination against gay people. In striking down those laws, this historic ruling removed a major roadblock in the battle for Gay Rights. Gay people can no longer be considered “criminals” because they love someone of same sex. Even more important, laws that deny gay people liberty or equal protection can no longer find justification on moral grounds alone. This distinction cannot be overstated when arguing with the haters.
The impact of this landmark case is extraordinary. SCOTUS declared all sodomy laws unconstitutional, putting an end to the sodomy laws that remained on the books in 13 states at the time of the ruling, including laws that criminalized only same-sexual conduct & laws that criminalized oral & anal sex for any consenting adult. SCOTUS also reversed Bowers v. Hardwick, its 1986 decision that upheld Georgia’s sodomy law that had been a huge setback to gay people’s fight for equality. The decision’s sweeping language about gay people’s equal rights began a new era of legal respect for LGBT citizens of our country. Until now, Lawrence v. Texas is considered the most significant gay rights breakthrough of our time.
I think I may have to celebrate this historic anniversary with some hot & very legal man sex.