Skip to comments.(OBIT) Defendant in landmark sodomy ruling was not motivated by politics (Lawrence v. Texas case)
Posted on 09/14/2006 8:53:47 AM PDT by weegee
1967 TYRONE GARNER 2006
Defendant in landmark sodomy ruling was not motivated by politics
The key civil liberties victory for gays was 'fight against all odds'
Tyrone Garner, whose arrest in violation of Texas sodomy laws led to a challenge before the Supreme Court and an eventual victory that struck down such statutes across the country, died after a lengthy illness, friends said Wednesday. He was 39.
Garner, who died Monday of meningitis in a Houston-area hospital, was openly gay but not politically active when he chose to fight his arrest in court, said his lawyer, Mitchell Katine.
"He was very shy and did not like to speak publicly," Katine said. "But privately he was very happy to be part of the civil rights fight for gay and lesbian people."
One of the greatest civil liberties victories for gay Americans began with a petty grudge.
On Sept. 17, 1998, Garner was in the home of John Lawrence in defiance of the wishes of his partner at the time, Robert Eubanks. Eubanks called the Harris County Sheriff's Office and told authorities that a crazed gunman was in the house.
"I think he was jealous," Garner said of Eubanks in a 2004 interview with the Houston Chronicle.
Two deputies arrived and found the door unlocked and Garner and Lawrence having sex. The pair was arrested and charged with "homosexual conduct," a misdemeanor that made it a crime for same-gender couples in Texas to have sex, even in private. They spent several hours in jail before posting $200 bond.
Lawrence and Garner were approached by Katine and the New York-based Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. Lawrence wanted to challenge the arrest, but Garner was initially reluctant.
"I didn't think we'd win," Garner told the Chronicle. "I didn't enjoy being outed with my mugshot on TV. It was degrading to me."
They pleaded no contest in criminal court and took their case to the state appellate level, where they lost. In 2002 their case landed before the U.S. Supreme Court.
"He decided to fight against all odds," Katine said of Garner. "We lost at every level in Texas, and the only place we won was the Supreme Court."
The court ruled 6-3 in favor of Lawrence and Garner, deciding that the Texas law violated the Constitution's privacy guarantee. The decision also struck down the remaining similar laws that were still on the books in 13 states.
In the opinion for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:
"The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government."
Paul Scott, the executive director of Equality Texas, a gay rights advocacy group based in Austin, said that Garner's victory set the stage for the battle over same-sex marriage.
"I think sometime people don't realize how great a victory it was," Scott said. "In many states sodomy laws were used to deny people custody of their children, it affected employment and sometimes was used to prevent people from seeking legal redress because they were considered criminals."
Scott said that a great debt was owed to Garner.
"Anyone having to be the public face of this issue would have had to go through some hard times," Scott said. "It took a lot of courage to fight."
Gee, I wonder how he got that "lengthy illness." And, what, exactly, was this "lengthy illness?"
Fine. I just wish they'd keep their "private lives" private, and quit trying to make us think they're "normal" and we're all homophobes.
Here the thread from earlier today.
***Garner had been suffering from meningitis***
And just how did he get meningitis? Nevermind, I don't think I want to know...
Men whose sodomy case led to Supreme Court ruling keep low profile(Lawrence Garner Texas) (Dallas Morning News via Philly.com Thu, Jun. 26, 2003)
The secrecy served the interests of the movement, said Ray Hill, a pioneering gay rights advocate in Houston, who knows both men. "They are not the kind of people that the lawyers want to comment on this case," Hill said. "They were never a couple. . . . They are not articulate."
It was neither man's first brush with the law when a Harris County sheriff's deputy, responding to a romantic rival's false report of a man with a gun, entered the apartment at the Colorado Club on Sept. 17, 1998, and found the men engaged in sex.
For Garner, Harris County court records list arrests for assault, drunken driving and possession of a small amount of marijuana. Department of Public Safety records show only two convictions for assault, in 1995 and 2000.
Lawrence has two convictions for drunken driving and one for murder-by-automobile in 1967.
Garner "punched me on my left eye two times" in January 2000, said Robert Royce Eubanks in an affidavit. Garner also beat Eubanks with a hose in 1999 while "using crack and drinking" and beat him with a belt in 1998, the affidavit said.
In May 1998, Garner "stabbed me on my right ring finger with a box cutter" and "grabbed a hot iron and burned me" and "then sexually assaulted me," Eubanks charged.
A temporary protective order was granted, but the case apparently was dropped after Eubanks' lawyer withdrew, saying she could not locate him for a scheduled trial.
And the city has redesigned their website so the old link to the HPD case on Eubanks death (one of two names he used) is broken.
Would have burned my eyes out.
A little squeamish? Shopping cart, door handle, anything someone with a bacterial infection might have touched and deposited germs on. Or possibly as a secondary infection following an upper respiratory infection or ear infection.
Maybe a weakened or non-existant immune system??
Possibly, but a weak immune system doesn't suddenly magically appear bacteria on you. You asked how he got it, I told you.
you didn't say anything about the most obvious route of transmission or does fecal stew kill meningitis?
Well, when the article says he had a "lengthy" illness, I wouldn't call that "suddenly magically appear(ing) bacteria." Anywho, we're all speculating, one way or the other. Thanks!
"Come on everybody we've got quilting to do."
Your ignorance regarding medicine is duly noted.
How about a little lemonade on the porch?
It wearies me when people are so knee-jerk emotional that they make silly comments like supposing meningitis is transmitted through anal sex. It was a silly comment. If you don't like having your silly comments pointed out, perhaps you should hit the web and find out what bacteria cause meningitis and how it is transmitted before making wrong medical pronouncements.