Last edited: November 28, 2004

Houston Attorney Calls Today ‘Day of Independence’

Houston Chronicle, June 26, 2003

By Salatheia Bryant

Mitchell Katine, attorney for John Lawrence and Tyron Garner, the men whose arrest in 1998 in Pasadena led to today’s Supreme Court decision, spent all morning trying to get word of the ruling. He finally got the news from his 65-year-old mother, who lives in a retirement community in Florida. She called him about 9 a.m. to tell him that the Supreme Court had struck down the Texas sodomy law.

Katine then immediately called his two clients individually.

“This creates or affirms rights of gays and lesbians to have privacy in their lives,” said Katine, an openly gay attorney. “What we do in private in our homes is protected just the same as heterosexuals and people who are married. I feel like this is a day of independence.”

Lawyer Jerry W. Simoneaux Jr., president of the Gay and Lesbian Bar Association in Houston, said today, “This is the greatest decision for gay and lesbian rights. This is something that will give us our dignity back. It’s going to restore us. I think we have a ways to go. We still can’t get married.”

For Katine, the decision was also a personal one. He and his partner of three years, Walter, have adopted two children from Latin America.

Katine called the mayor’s office, Debra Danburg and others who had been active in the case, to invite them to a celebratory rally on the steps of City Hall at 5 p.m. Although the two men central to the case are not expected to be there, speakers are to include leaders of the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transexual organization, along with lawyers and public officials.

Danburg, as a state representative, sponsored a bill to repeal the state’s Homosexual Conduct Law. It cleared the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence in 2001, then died.

At Katine’s law office on the Southwest Freeway, congratulatory phone calls and e-mails began pouring in. A little after 10 a.m., Katine’s partner, Walter, called to congratulate him. Katine told him, “We have the same rights to privacy as our neighbors do.”

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