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."
In that case, why didn't Texas try them for resisting arrest instead of for the crime of sodomy?
Do people have meningitis for long periods? I thought death was pretty quick.
Yep, he probably had AIDs, but he certainly didn't catch the meningitis from anal sex!
That may have just finished him off if he indeed had AIDS.
I remember something like that too. I think the officers stated that they thought it was staged, and they were set up.
Walking into the residence, the caller stood out of the way to let the officers thru and witness the episode. It was something screwy like that. The whole thing was contrived to get a case before the courts.
The folks at lonestartimes.com should probably have the info on that. Houston based blog. They started as watchdogs of the Houston Chronicle.
I always thought the Chronicle just followed thru with mindless reporting without giving the inside information.
This is just another instance where the courts have been used to advance a specific cause thru illigitimate cases.
1.) 1930s ruling restricting the 2nd amend.
2.) Roe V Wade
3.) this one comes to mind..
Yes, bacterial meningitis is bad enough if your immune system's intact. :-p
I want to apologize. I've noticed recently I've been irritable with people here when I normally wouldn't be. I think I'm letting stress in real life carry over into my virtual interactions. I ought to have just explained how meningitis is transmitted instead of being rude to you. I will keep an eye on myself for a while so I don't myself make knee-jerk judgments of people I haven't spoken to before. I'm sorry I was rude to you.
I assume that they were arrested for not obeying the officers since the "crime" itself carried a fine but no jail time.
Matters not, the men pleaded no contest to the sodomy charge and then appealed to overturn the law.
And DA Chuck Rosenthal said that he didn't necessarily support the law (against same sex sodomy) but that he "had" to enforce the laws of the state (of course he'll still prosecute you as a felon if you are LEGALLY driving with a gun in your car as approved by the legislature).
Chuck Rosenthal (R) hasn't gotten my vote in years.
He also had a history of drug use (abuse) and that may have also compromised his body's ability to deal with toxins.
What's unusual is how political correctness makes it okay to identify someone as having meningitis (and when a student has spinal meningitis, the school is rapidly identified and people are encouraged to seek testing in they may have come in contact with him) but we had a couple people die of a particularly nasty strain of West Nile Virus (this one attacks the central nervous system) and the authorities said that because of medical confidentiality, we could only know the county (not even the location) even though 2 people have died already and the disease can be spread by mosquittos.
You are assuming it was bacterial meningitis. I don't think I have ever heard of bacterial memingitis lasting 6 months.
I assume it was bacterial meningitis because it is much more deadly than viral meningitis. I don't assume that he was sick with meningitis for 6 months.
"Garner, 39, died early Monday at a Houston hospital, said Mark Roy, a spokesman for Lambda Legal in New York City. Garner had been suffering from meningitis and had been in his brother's care for the past six months.
"Over the last few months, he lost the use of his legs from meningitis," Roy told The Associated Press. "
The differential diagnosis would be viral (ie HIV), TB or Fungal.
I read "died Monday of meningitis," didn't see it was long duration.
You might want to reread your post 18 and reflect.
Sorry, make that 20....
Kudos. Nice to see honorable behavior.