Last edited: April 28, 2004

Two Men Proud to Have Helped Defeat State’s Sodomy Law

Associated Press, April 26, 2004

HOUSTON—Two men whose 1998 arrests led to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down bans on sodomy, say they are proud to have helped defeat an unjust law.

Speaking together for the first time since the case began, John Lawrence and Tyron Garner told The Houston Chronicle for a Sunday story that they are overwhelmed by the support they received and are glad the case is over.

“I got a sense of justice for being wronged by the state of Texas,” Lawrence said. “I feel I’ve been vindicated.”

The men were arrested after police—sent by a bogus report of an armed intruder—burst into Lawrence’s apartment and found them engaged in consensual sex. The pair was jailed overnight and charged with breaking Texas’ Homosexual Conduct Law, which bans oral and anal sex between people of the same gender.

In its landmark June ruling, the Supreme Court said that what gay men and women do in the privacy of their bedrooms is their business and not the government’s.

The 6-3 decision invalidated laws in Texas and 12 other states. It also galvanized both sides in an ongoing national debate over whether homosexuals are entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals when it comes to marriage and adoption.

Lawrence, a 60-year-old medical technologist, said he has no regrets for taking the case to Washington.

“When somebody is wronged and they don’t stand up for themselves, they’re going to get wronged again. I wasn’t going to stand for it,” he said.

Garner, 36, who sells barbecue from a street stand, said it was hard to endure the loss of his privacy.

“I didn’t enjoy being outed with my mugshot on TV,” he said. “It was degrading to me.”

But the result was worth it, he said.

“I don’t really want to be a hero,” Garner said. “But I want to tell other gay people ‘Be who you are, and don’t be afraid.’”

[Home] [News] [Lawrence v. Texas]