Last edited: February 14, 2005

US Supreme Court Takes Up Gay Sex Challenge, November 30, 2002

By Paul Johnson, Washington Bureau Chief

Washington, D.C.—The Supreme Court will be asked if it is legal for police to charge gays for having sex in their own homes. The court could decide as early as Monday, if it will hear the case which involving two Texas men seeking to overturn a much-disputed precedent which upheld state sodomy laws.

In 1986, in the case of Bowers vs. Hardwick, the Supreme Court, voting 5-4 upheld the conviction of two gay men under Georgia’s anti-sodomy law.

The new case involves two Texas men, charged in 1998 for having sex in the home of one of the men.

Sheriff’s deputies, responding to a false report of an armed intruder, entered John Lawrence’s Houston apartment and found Lawrence and Tyrone Garner having sex.

Both were arrested and jailed overnight. The men pleaded no contest to the charges and paid a $200 fine.

The Texas sodomy law under which they were charged bans sexual relations, including oral and anal sex, between consenting adults of the same sex. It does not apply to heterosexual couples.

The case was appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which refused to hear it.

The men are represented by the Lambda Legal Defense Fund. Lambda argues the Texas law violates the equal-treatment standard of the Constitution.

Besides Texas, only three other states—Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri—still enforce anti-sodomy laws that target gays and lesbians.

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