Texas Court Upholds Conviction of Two Men for Consensual Sex at Home
Lambda Legal Defense and
Education Fund, March 15, 2001
For Immediate Release
Contact: Peg Byron 212-809-8585 x 230, 1-888-987-1984 pager
Ruth E. Harlow 212-809-8585 x 210
Mitchell Katine 713-981-9595
NEW YORK A Texas Court of Appeals Thursday
overturned a ruling that had found the states "Homosexual
Conduct" law unconstitutional, in a case involving the prosecution of two
Houston men accused of having sex in the privacy of one mans home.
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund said it will continue its defense
of the two men and pursue its challenge to Texas criminal ban on sexual
relations between people of the same sex.
With a teleconference at 2 p.m. CDT, Thursday, March 15, Lambda Legal
Director Ruth E. Harlow and Lambda Cooperating Attorney Mitchell Katine of the
Houston law firm Williams, Birnberg & Anderson will discuss the ruling.
The case began September 17, 1998, when sheriffs deputies, responding to
a false report of an armed intruder, entered a private Houston apartment where
they found the pair having sex.
Both men were arrested and jailed for over 24 hours before being released
on $200 bond each. A county criminal court convicted John Lawrence and Tyron
Garner of a Class C misdemeanor, which carries up to a $500 fine. Lambda
appealed on their behalf.
"The government does not belong in peoples bedrooms to police
consensual adult intimacy, nor can it have one rule for gay people and another
one, granting more freedom, for non-gay people," Harlow said.
"Contrary to this decision, the courts role is to protect
individual liberties when the legislature and prosecutors have
overstepped," she said, noting that Lambda would petition for review in
the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Last June, a panel of the appeals court held that the statute violates the
Equal Rights Amendment of the Texas Constitution because it punished only
certain couples for oral or anal sex without adequate justification. Texas has
had a sodomy law since 1860, but decriminalized such activities by
different-sex partners in 1974.
On motion by the state, the entire Fourteenth Court of Appeals reheard the
Texas now is one of only four states, along with Arkansas, Kansas and
Oklahoma, that prohibit consensual sex acts between same-sex partners only.
Lambda recently argued its legal challenge to the Arkansas law, Picado v.
Jegley. Twelve other states still prohibit consensual oral and anal sex
between different- and same-sex partners alike, despite the nationwide trend
toward abolishing such invasive criminal laws.
Headquarter in New York, with offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta,
Lambda will open an office in Dallas in 2002.
WHAT: Teleconference to discuss a court ruling to uphold the Texas
"Homosexual Conduct" Law
WHO: Lambda Legal Director Ruth E. Harlow and Cooperating Attorney Mitchell
Katine of the Houston law firm Williams, Birnberg & Anderson
WHEN: Thursday, March 15, 2:00 - 2:45 p.m. CDT
HOW: Call 913-661-0962; at the prompt, enter pass code 4020; please RSVP to
Lambda at 212-809-8585 if you are interested in participating in the
(Lawrence and Garner v. Texas, No. 14-99-0019-CR)
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
120 Wall Street, Suite 1500
New York, NY 10005-3904
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