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."
Thanks, I prefer it when it's not necessary. ;-)
Kozak points out that he suffered with meningitis for six months, so it wasn't bacterial meningitis but possibly viral meningitis caused by the HIV virus, so he may actually have caught meningitis by this route in a circuitous fashion, making me doubly wrong!
TB and fungal meningitis are also high on the list of things people get as secondary infections from AIDS.
No problem and thank you.
From the web, Medical Microbiology:
Human immunodeficiency virus can cause acute and progressive CNS disease. HTLV-I causes chronic spastic paraparesis in a small number of infected persons."
One of many possibilities along with other STDs or simple bacterial infection.
I would think TB would be the least likely just because TB is not very common in the US. From my reading HIV meningitis is very common in people who are HIV positive and often kind of comes and goes multiple times. Cryptococcal meningitis is common and often fatal. My guess is that would be the most likely, what do you think?
Baacterial menigitis is rather quick if not treated immediately; retroviruses can linger on.
AND - they had tried to get cops to come before and witness their sodomy just to get a case going. This was not their first attempt.
The article is a lie.
I wonder about the writer of this article...
(I'd do some research but we're super busy right now...)
Classy (no sarcasm,) as befits a real FReeper.
I must have never heard of the latter since every case of meningitis I have heard of the deaths are within days or even less.
Where in the Constitution does it say that the State cannot control a person's destiny?
Hmm.. lengthy illness = the AIDS?
Men In Gitis.
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