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.
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.
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...)
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