Last edited: February 14, 2005

Two Men Accused Of Violating Texas Sodomy Laws File New Appeals

Associated Press, December 22, 1998

By C. Bryson Hull

HOUSTON - A judge denied motions Tuesday to quash charges against two men convicted of homosexual conduct, sending a challenge to the state's 119-year-old law prohibiting sodomy to a state appeals court.

John Geddes Lawrence, 55, and Tyrone Garner, 31, were arrested Sept. 17 in Lawrence's apartment and charged with engaging in homosexual conduct, a misdemeanor.

Both pleaded no contest last month, but appealed to the next court with a motion to quash the charges. Judge Sherman A. Ross dismissed the motions at a hearing Tuesday.

Under an agreement reached with prosecutors, Lawrence and Garner again pleaded no contest. The judge fined them $200 each and allowed the immediate filing of their new appeals.

The case may end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, because Garner and Lawrence's challenges are based on state and federal constitutional questions involving privacy rights.

"I believe in the Constitution of the United States and I believe in the rights of all citizens," Lawrence said. "Would you like someone busting into your house?"

Harris County deputies entered Lawrence's apartment and found the men engaged in consensual sex. The deputies were responding to a false report that someone was going crazy in the apartment and was armed with a gun, according to court documents.

Although on the books for more than a century, the Texas sodomy law is rarely enforced. Gay activists have worked unsuccessfully for years to overturn the statute.

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