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Men whose sodomy case led to Supreme Court ruling keep low profile(Lawrence Garner Texas)
Dallas Morning News via Philly.com ^ | Posted on Thu, Jun. 26, 2003 | BY BRUCE NICHOLS

Posted on 06/29/2003 3:17:56 PM PDT by weegee

Men whose sodomy case led to Supreme Court ruling keep low profile BY BRUCE NICHOLS The Dallas Morning News

HOUSTON - (KRT) - The two men whose appeal led the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Texas' sodomy law have been invisible warriors, making brief appearances at the courthouse but otherwise working with their lawyers to keep their lives secret.

Until Thursday's ruling, the public view of Tyron Garner, 35, who was unemployed when arrested in 1998, and John Geddes Lawrence, 59, a longtime medical technologist, consisted of a brief TV news clip in which they decried their arrest.

Garner and Lawrence, smiling but looking a bit overwhelmed, sat silently and barely acknowledged each other while gay advocates spoke at a news conference Thursday in Houston.

Lawrence read a statement in a low voice, but the men did not take questions. "I am not a public speaker," he said.

"We never chose to be public figures or to take on this fight. But we also never thought we could be arrested this way," Lawrence said. "We're glad not only that this ruling lets us get on with our lives but that it opens the door for gay people all across the country to be truly equal. We're grateful to everyone who has respected our privacy over the last few years, even if the state of Texas did not respect it that night in 1998."

Ruth Harlow, lead lawyer for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the New York-based gay rights organization that supported the case, said Garner and Lawrence "are reluctant standard-bearers for the principles that are at stake here, but they believe in them very strongly."

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.

In 2000, the former roommate of Garner who called deputies to the apartment - and was later convicted of filing a false police report - went to court to obtain a protective order against Garner, accusing him of several beatings and a sexual assault.

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.

Before the news conference Thursday, Garner could not be found for comment, and checks of addresses and phone numbers listed in various court documents turned up neither Garner nor family members who could speak for him.

Lawrence still lives in the apartment where the two men were arrested five years ago. He continues working at Bayshore Medical Center in Pasadena, Texas, where a co-worker said he sometimes serves as shift supervisor in the hospital's lab.

The co-worker, who asked not to be identified, described him as "a nice guy" but quiet. She said she didn't know about the case until recently, when she saw the old video clip replayed on a TV news broadcast.

"Most of the time, he's just serious, just doing his work," she said. "If you go up and talk to him, he'll hold a conversation, but he's not going to start a conversation with you."

A neighbor at the apartment complex for the last three years said that Lawrence kept to himself and was a cordial if distant neighbor. Bill Chalfant, who lives in the unit below Lawrence, said he didn't know about the case and "never thought twice about him."

"He's a good guy," Chalfant said. "I've never had any problems with him."

Lawrence has had a few problems with the law - about once every decade over the last 35 years, records indicate.

In 1967, Department of Public Safety records indicate he was found guilty of murder-by-automobile in Galveston County and given five years' probation. Twice since then, in 1978 and 1988, he served probation for driving while intoxicated.

Lawrence also is in the midst of a bankruptcy proceeding, the apparent result of consumer debt, mostly credit card overruns, according to the office of the trustee handling the case. Colorado Club is a creditor, but he's protected from eviction while in bankruptcy.

Telephoned for comment, he was polite but said, "Call my lawyer."

People involved in the early stages of the case recall the two men as shy, but the media circus that immediately surrounded the case might have made almost anyone hesitant, said Justice of the Peace Mike Parrott, who presided at the first hearing.

"I don't know if they ever made a sound," Judge Parrott said. The men, appearing in coats and ties, "were flanked by attorneys. . . . They were just normal guys standing there . . . (and) did what they were told."

It has been reported that deputies broke down the apartment door, but the judge disputed that. "There were no doors kicked in," he said.

Either the door was unlocked or apartment personnel let in the deputies, but they "were going in with the anticipation of somebody having a gun," the judge said. "I kind of felt sorry for the deputies. . . . They wrote it up as they saw it."

Attorney David Jones, who attended that first hearing, said he never understood the need for secrecy. "Can't imperfect people win in court?" Jones said.

But Eric Ferrero, a spokesman for Lambda Legal, said the right to privacy was the key principle in the case, and "we have made a commitment to help carve out and enforce a zone of privacy for these men."

---

© 2003, The Dallas Morning News.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: activistcourt; activistsupremecourt; ageofconsentlaws; blametheda; callerwaseubanks; callerwasmurdered; charlesrosenthal; chuckrosenthal; doorwasunlocked; druglaws; eubanks; harriscounty; homosexualagenda; homosexualrape; houston; incestlaws; johnlawrence; lawrencevtexas; losermoralayatollahs; pasadena; privacylaws; prostitutionlaws; rape; rapist; rino; robertroyceeubanks; samesexdisorder; sexlaws; sexualassault; sodomylaws; texas; texassodomylaw; theywereinthebedroom; tyronegarner; wherearetheynow
Little has been reported on the men behind the case.

The article neglects to mention that the caller was murdered in 2000.

Houston Police Online (October 17, 2000)

1 posted on 06/29/2003 3:17:57 PM PDT by weegee
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To: weegee
Ah, murder and assault. No wonder the Liberals love these guys so much. They thought they were Kennedys.
2 posted on 06/29/2003 3:22:55 PM PDT by speedy
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To: weegee
Actually, I have seen several reports about these two TX men, and I have seen pictures of them on TV. They do not appear to be keeping a "low profile" to me but are basking in their legal victory.
3 posted on 06/29/2003 3:23:35 PM PDT by Theodore R.
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To: weegee

Tyron Garner (left) and John Geddes Lawrence, at a news
conference Thursday, were arrested under the law in 1998.

Article


4 posted on 06/29/2003 3:27:57 PM PDT by deport ( BUSH/CHENEY 2004...... with or without the showboy)
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To: Theodore R.
Here is the lengthy post I made on another thread where I outlined some details of the original incident (with article citation).

BLAME THE GOP FOR PRO-SODOMY COURT DECISION (post #130)

I went through all of that to get the correct name of the roommate/lover. It also has some discussion of whether they created the situtation (or just capitalized on it).

5 posted on 06/29/2003 3:32:51 PM PDT by weegee
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To: deport
Could you post the article (or an excerpt)? I'd rather not have to register at another site (even for free).
6 posted on 06/29/2003 3:34:17 PM PDT by weegee
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To: weegee
Department of Public Safety records show only two convictions for assault, in 1995 and 2000

Under Sundried O'Connor's compelling public interest in diversity, how many assault cinvictions is each person allowed?
7 posted on 06/29/2003 3:36:27 PM PDT by leprechaun9
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To: weegee
In 2000, the former roommate of Garner who called deputies to the apartment - and was later convicted of filing a false police report - went to court to obtain a protective order against Garner, accusing him of several beatings and a sexual assault.

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.

And Eubanks was fatally assaulted on Oct. 10, 2000. I wonder who could have done it. Think Garner has an alibi?

8 posted on 06/29/2003 3:41:13 PM PDT by aristeides
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To: aristeides
I would certainly be an odd twist on this whole case.
9 posted on 06/29/2003 3:45:25 PM PDT by weegee
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To: aristeides
It would certainly be an odd twist on this whole case.
10 posted on 06/29/2003 3:45:30 PM PDT by weegee
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To: weegee
Houston men were surrounded by secrecy throughout appeal

'We never chose to be public figures'

06/27/2003

By BRUCE NICHOLS / The Dallas Morning News

HOUSTON – The two men whose appeal led the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Texas' sodomy law have been invisible warriors, making brief appearances at the courthouse but otherwise working with their lawyers to keep their lives secret.

Until Thursday's ruling, the public view of Tyron Garner, 35, who was unemployed when arrested in 1998, and John Geddes Lawrence, 59, a longtime medical technologist, consisted of a brief TV news clip in which they decried their arrest.

Mr. Garner and Mr. Lawrence, smiling but looking a bit overwhelmed, sat silently and barely acknowledged each other while gay advocates spoke at a news conference Thursday in Houston.

*
Erich Schlegel / DMN
Tyron Garner (left) and John Geddes Lawrence, at a news conference Thursday, were arrested under the law in 1998.

Mr. Lawrence read a statement in a low voice, but the men did not take questions. "I am not a public speaker," he said.

"We never chose to be public figures or to take on this fight. But we also never thought we could be arrested this way," Mr. Lawrence said. "We're glad not only that this ruling lets us get on with our lives but that it opens the door for gay people all across the country to be truly equal. We're grateful to everyone who has respected our privacy over the last few years, even if the state of Texas did not respect it that night in 1998."

Ruth Harlow, lead lawyer for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the New York-based gay rights organization that supported the case, said Mr. Garner and Mr. Lawrence "are reluctant standard-bearers for the principles that are at stake here, but they believe in them very strongly."

Also Online
'New day for gay Americans'
For area gays, court decision offers hope
Houston men were surrounded by secrecy throughout appeal
Perry will abide by court ruling, spokesman says
Court targets revised statutes of limitations
Editorial: Sodomy law belonged to bygone era


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," Mr. 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 an apartment at the Colorado Club on Sept. 17, 1998, and found the men engaged in sex.

Prior convictions

For Mr. 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 two convictions for assault, in 1995 and 2000.

Mr. Lawrence has two convictions for drunken driving and one for murder-by-automobile in 1967.

In 2000, the former roommate of Mr. Garner who called deputies to the apartment – and was later convicted of filing a false police report – went to court to obtain a protective order against Mr. Garner, accusing him of several beatings and a sexual assault.

Mr. Garner "punched me on my left eye two times" in January 2000, said Robert Royce Eubanks in an affidavit. Mr. Garner also beat Mr. 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, Mr. 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," Mr. Eubanks charged.

A temporary protective order was granted, but the case apparently was dropped after Mr. Eubanks' lawyer withdrew, saying she could not locate him for a scheduled trial.

Before the news conference Thursday, Mr. Garner could not be found for comment, and checks of addresses and phone numbers listed in various court documents turned up neither Mr. Garner nor family members who could speak for him.

'A nice guy'

Mr. Lawrence still lives in the apartment where the two men were arrested five years ago.

He works at Bayshore Medical Center in Pasadena, where a co-worker said he sometimes serves as shift supervisor in the hospital's lab.

The co-worker, who asked not to be identified, described him as "a nice guy" but quiet. She said she didn't know about the case until recently, when she saw the old video clip replayed on a TV news broadcast.

"Most of the time, he's just serious, just doing his work," she said. "If you go up and talk to him, he'll hold a conversation, but he's not going to start a conversation with you."

A neighbor at the apartment complex for the last three years said that Mr. Lawrence kept to himself and was a cordial if distant neighbor. Bill Chalfant, who lives in the unit below Mr. Lawrence, said he didn't know about the case and "never thought twice about him."

"He's a good guy," Mr. Chalfant said. "I've never had any problems with him."

Mr. Lawrence has had a few problems with the law – about once every decade over the last 35 years, records indicate.

In 1967, Department of Public Safety records indicate he was found guilty of murder-by-automobile in Galveston County and given five years' probation. Twice since then, in 1978 and 1988, he served probation for driving while intoxicated.

Mr. Lawrence also is in the midst of a bankruptcy proceeding, the apparent result of consumer debt, mostly credit card overruns, according to the office of the trustee handling the case. Colorado Club is a creditor, but he's protected from eviction while in bankruptcy.

Telephoned for comment, he was polite but said, "Call my lawyer."

People involved in the early stages of the case recall the two men as shy, but the media circus that immediately surrounded the case might have made almost anyone hesitant, said Justice of the Peace Mike Parrott, who presided at the first hearing.

"I don't know if they ever made a sound," Judge Parrott said. The men, appearing in coats and ties, "were flanked by attorneys. ... They were just normal guys standing there ... [and] did what they were told."

No doors kicked in

It has been reported that deputies broke down the apartment door, but the judge disputed that. "There were no doors kicked in," he said.

Either the door was unlocked or apartment personnel let in the deputies, but they "were going in with the anticipation of somebody having a gun," the judge said. "I kind of felt sorry for the deputies. ... They wrote it up as they saw it."

Attorney David Jones, who attended that first hearing, said he never understood the need for secrecy. "Can't imperfect people win in court?" Mr. Jones said.

But Eric Ferrero, a spokesman for Lambda Legal, said the right to privacy was the key principle in the case, and "we have made a commitment to help carve out and enforce a zone of privacy for these men."

E-mail bnichols@dallasnews.com


11 posted on 06/29/2003 3:47:50 PM PDT by deport ( BUSH/CHENEY 2004...... with or without the showboy)
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To: deport
Is it just me or does the fellow on the left of that photo look like Eddie Murphy pretending to be a poof?
12 posted on 06/29/2003 3:49:19 PM PDT by Prodigal Son
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To: Under the Radar
ping for later
13 posted on 06/29/2003 3:49:35 PM PDT by Under the Radar
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To: leprechaun9
Department of Public Safety records show only two convictions for assault, in 1995 and 2000

Only?

14 posted on 06/29/2003 3:52:40 PM PDT by AmishDude
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To: deport
It appears to be the same article but thanks (it includes the author's email, maybe he would like to pursue the Robert Eubanks' murder).
15 posted on 06/29/2003 3:56:57 PM PDT by weegee
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To: weegee
One possible theory is that the whole case was collusively set up by all three: Eubanks, Garner, and Lawrence. But another possibility is that Eubanks sicced the cops on Garner and Lawrence in a fit of jealous rage. The latter might explain the assaults.
16 posted on 06/29/2003 4:01:27 PM PDT by aristeides
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To: weegee
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.

Obviously this happened at some point in 2000. I wonder when it happened, relative to Eubanks's murder.

17 posted on 06/29/2003 4:03:49 PM PDT by aristeides
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To: weegee
"Men whose sodomy case led to Supreme Court ruling keep low profile"

They're keeping their heads down?

18 posted on 06/29/2003 4:09:22 PM PDT by Senator Goldwater
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To: deport
[John Geddes Lawrence] was found guilty of murder-by-automobile in Galveston County and given five years' probation.

How does THAT happen?

19 posted on 06/29/2003 4:18:40 PM PDT by my_pointy_head_is_sharp (The Supreme Court busy at work, legalizing sodomy, virtual child porn & abortion - while you play.)
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To: aristeides
I don't know how to search for police arrests (those at www.theSmokingGun.com do). Maybe they would be interested (they generally put arrest records online in their complete form along with booking mug shots).
20 posted on 06/29/2003 4:19:35 PM PDT by weegee
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To: deport

Strange bedfellows -- Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee
and former GOP presidential candidate Pat Buchanan describe the shape
of the UFO that interrupted their lovers' tryst at a rural highway rest stop.

21 posted on 06/29/2003 4:20:47 PM PDT by Sloth ("I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" -- Jacobim Mugatu, 'Zoolander')
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To: my_pointy_head_is_sharp
It was the summer of LOVE?
22 posted on 06/29/2003 4:20:53 PM PDT by weegee
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To: Sloth
So right and yet so wrong!!!
23 posted on 06/29/2003 4:21:19 PM PDT by weegee
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To: weegee
Where's the barf alert?
24 posted on 06/29/2003 4:22:44 PM PDT by dennisw (G-d is at war with Amalek for all generations)
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To: weegee
Once known as the love that dare not speak it's name .........

Now known as the love that won't shut the F up.
25 posted on 06/29/2003 4:27:50 PM PDT by dennisw (G-d is at war with Amalek for all generations)
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To: weegee
Gee...how creepy are these guys....doesn't do much for the effort to 'main-stream' homosexuals.
26 posted on 06/29/2003 4:42:52 PM PDT by jtw99
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To: leprechaun9
, how many assault cinvictions is each person allowed?

Might as well ask how many people OJ Simpson
can kill before he's a murderer.  Answer: more than two.
27 posted on 06/29/2003 5:19:15 PM PDT by gcruse (There is no such thing as society: there are individual men and women[.] --Margaret Thatcher)
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To: weegee
Ruth Harlow, lead lawyer for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the New York-based gay rights organization that supported the case, said Garner and Lawrence "are reluctant standard-bearers for the principles that are at stake here

bwahahahahahahaha if you believe this

28 posted on 06/29/2003 5:21:12 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: weegee
thesmokinggun.com doesn't do tsk-tsks to counter cultural figures.
29 posted on 06/29/2003 5:22:40 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: my_pointy_head_is_sharp
How does THAT happen?


I have no idea.... It would certainly be interesting to see the details of the case, etc.
30 posted on 06/29/2003 5:29:03 PM PDT by deport ( BUSH/CHENEY 2004...... with or without the showboy)
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To: weegee
Weegee, great job!
31 posted on 06/29/2003 5:36:30 PM PDT by Under the Radar
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To: dennisw
Somebody ping JohnHuang2. That's the quote of the day.
32 posted on 06/29/2003 5:39:03 PM PDT by Treebeard
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To: Under the Radar
It required a bit of googling today for me to draw up all of those articles. I've searched through them before and posted them to FR (I knew what I was looking for).

The keywords on FR don't seem to be hitting the archives very well or else the keywords keep getting cleared out on some threads (I've seen this happen months later).

I'm bookmarking this thread since it takes me awhile just to find the third guy's real name (early gay press articles had a totally different 3 word name that never appears on other sites).

Thanks for noticing the effort.

33 posted on 06/29/2003 6:18:18 PM PDT by weegee
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To: HiTech RedNeck
I am familiar that they covered a lot of celebrity scandals but they also printed the Al-Quaida obstruction handbook and the Charles Bishop/Bishra (The Tampa Teen Kamakazi) suicide terrorist note.

They sure like to take reality tv "stars" down a peg. Is this "reality tv" enough?

34 posted on 06/29/2003 6:22:24 PM PDT by weegee
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To: okchemyst
I first heard Howie Carr from Boston talk radio WRKO use it---->

Once known as the love that dare not speak it's name ......... 

Now known as the love that won't shut the F up.


35 posted on 06/29/2003 6:24:34 PM PDT by dennisw (G-d is at war with Amalek for all generations)
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To: dennisw
The barf alert was reserved for this thread:

Against His Will -- Notes on the New Gay Predator

Since Mr. Garner was alleged to have raped Mr. Eubanks, the caller, perhaps it is an appropriate cross-reference.

36 posted on 06/29/2003 7:26:25 PM PDT by weegee
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To: Sloth
You think that they'll be able to get Nipsey Russell and Gene Hackman to play the parts for the Showtime made-for-cable movie?

Coming next June, The Really Odd Couple.

37 posted on 06/29/2003 7:33:10 PM PDT by weegee
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To: weegee
Butt f***ers.
38 posted on 06/29/2003 7:38:16 PM PDT by PatrioticAmerican (If the only way an American can get elected is through Mexican votes, we have a war to be waged.)
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To: deport
How would you like to be the cops who came across these two en flagrante???
39 posted on 06/29/2003 7:40:44 PM PDT by Rummyfan
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To: weegee
.... a Harris County sheriff's deputy ... entered the apartment at the Colorado Club on Sept. 17, 1998, and found the men engaged in SODOMY.
40 posted on 06/29/2003 11:03:47 PM PDT by Brian Allen ( Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God - Thomas Jefferson)
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To: weegee
Please ping me to any more of these threads. I am convinced this was a set up from the get-go. The DA will be penning his best-seller in a few years, count on it.
41 posted on 06/30/2003 5:09:42 AM PDT by Under the Radar
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To: weegee
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.

And the article says that these two men (Lawrence and Garner) don't appear "as a couple." But isn't Justice Kennedy right in saying "When sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring. The liberty protected by the Constitution allows homosexual persons the right to make this choice."

Well, it certainly *seems* that sodomy was an such an occasion of conduct for these two men... /sarcasm off

42 posted on 06/30/2003 6:01:16 PM PDT by pseudo-ignatius
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