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Houston Voice, June 25, 2004
File 009
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Houston Voice, June 25, 2004 - File 009. 2004-06-25. University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. December 17, 2017. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/7279/show/7238.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(2004-06-25). Houston Voice, June 25, 2004 - File 009. Montrose Voice. University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/7279/show/7238

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Voice, June 25, 2004 - File 009, 2004-06-25, Montrose Voice, University of Houston Libraries, accessed December 17, 2017, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/7279/show/7238.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Voice, June 25, 2004
Contributor
  • Crain, Chris
  • Fisher, Binnie
Publisher Window Media
Date June 25, 2004
Language English
Subject
  • LGBTQ community
  • LGBTQ people
  • Gay liberation movement
Place
  • Houston, Texas
Genre
  • newspapers
Type
  • Text
Identifier OCLC: 31485329
Rights In Copyright: This item is protected by copyright. Copyright to this resource is held by the creator or current rights holder, and the resource is provided here for educational purposes. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without permission of the copyright owner. Users assume full responsibility for any infringement of copyright or related rights.
Note This item was digitized from materials loaned by the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM).
Item Description
Title File 009
Transcript 8 JUNE 25, 2004 www.houstonvoice.com HOUSTON VOICE news cover story Sodomy ruling let gays 'dream bigger' S000MY RULING, continued from Page 1 Sodomy laws were rarely enforced in the years after the 1986 ruling — a Georgia case known as Bowers v. Hardwick — but as long as the Supreme Court classified gay sex as criminal behavior, gay men and lesbians continued to be denied the full rights of citizenship, said Greg Nevins. a senior staff attorney for the Lambda Defense & Education Fund, a gay legal group. "When you can be criminalized, it's hard to make an argument for other rights," he said. But on June 26,2003, the Supreme Court reversed itself by striking down all remaining sodomy laws in its ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, a decision that signaled "a sea change in the prevailing attitude concerning our rights," Nevins said. The 6-3 ruling allowed Wolfson to finally remove his pink triangle pin, and the majority opinion used strong words to describe the mistake the court made 17 years earlier. "Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the 6-3 majority in Lawrence. "It ought not remain binding precedent. "Its continuance as precedent demeans the lives of homosexual persons," Kennedy wrote. Pride and prejudice Adding to the emotional power of the Lawrence ruling was the fact that it was announced just days before many cities across the country celebrated Gay Pride weekend. "The timing of it was really special," said Donna Narducci, executive director of the Atlanta FVide Committee. Wolfson said Lawrence was a momentous win, but gay men and lesbians must not assume the fight for equal rights is over. "Other landmark rulings remind us that court decisions are not self-enacting," Wolfson said. After the Lawrence decision was announced, Wolfson said he replaced his pink triangle with a symbol of gay citizens' next big legal fight: a Freedom to Marry pin. Sodomy law challenged When John Lawrence was arrested in his Houston apartment in 1998 after being caught engaged in consensual sex with Tyron Garner, he couldn't believe what was happening, Lawrence told Southern Voice in an interview this week. Lawrence said he didn't know sodomy was still a crime in Texas, and thought enforcement of such laws ended in the 1960s. Harris County sheriff's deputies entered Lawrence's home on Sept. 17,1998, responding to a false report that a man in the apartment had a gun and was disruptive. Upon entering the house and Finding Garner and Lawrence having sex, the deputies arrested both men for violating the state sodomy law, which prohibited Tyrone Gamer (left) and John Lawrence arrive at the courthouse with one of their attorneys, Mitchell Katine (right), to face charges of homosexual conduct under Texas' sodomy law on Nov. 20,1998. More than four years later, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned their conviction and ruled as unconstitutional state sodomy laws. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) "deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex." Oral and anal sex were both classified as "deviant sexual intercourse" by the Texas statute. After being arrested, convicted of sodomy and forced to pay $200 fines, Garner and Lawrence secured legal help from gay attorneys who were eager to challenge the state's sodomy law and were waiting on the right case to do so. Mitchell Katine, a gay Houston attorney who represented Lawrence and Garner along with Lambda Legal, said this week that the case represented a "perfect storm" with which to challenge the sodomy law, since that was the only crime the defendants were accused of committing. "It was one charge, which made the case very clear and less likely to be sidetracked by some other factor," Katine said. "That, and the underlying facts of the case were so compelling to anyone who looked at them is what made this the right case." But even "the right case" to challenge the state's sodomy law faced a difficult battle in the Texas courts, and Katine said he was not confident they would win, a feeling he shared with Lawrence and Garner. Garner and Lawrence were found guilty of committing sodomy by a Harris County judge on Dec. 22,1998, a ruling that was overturned by a three-judge panel of the Texas Court of Appeals on June 5,2000. But almost a year later, on March 15, 2001, the full court of appeals reversed the three-judge panel's decision — upholding Garner and Lawrence's convictions and the state's sodomy law. After the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals — the state's highest court on criminal matters — refused to hear an appeal on behalf of the two men in April 2002, Katine and lawyers with Lambda Legal filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. Road to 'greater freedom7 The first true high point was when we got word from the Supreme Court that they were ordering the state of Texas to file a reply to our petition," Katine remembers. "That's when I thought they might hear our case, that's when I got excited." In December 2002 the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and attorneys from the state of Texas and Lambda Legal gave oral arguments on March 26,2003. The Texas law was unconstitutional and should be overturned for two primary reasons, Paul Smith, a gay attorney affiliated with Lambda Legal, told the high court. The statute violated gay men and lesbians' due process and right to privacy, and it violated the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment because it singled out sodomy committed by same-sex couples and not heterosexual couples. Charles Rosenthal, the Harris County district attorney, argued that his state has an interest in upholding "moral standards for its people," and that "marriage and family" and promoting the birth of children were all issues that justified the state's interest in keeping homosexual sodomy illegal. "During the oral arguments the justices clearly indicated that they thought the law was ridiculous," Katine said. Three months after oral arguments, the justices announced they sided with Lawrence and Garner in a decision whose wording Katine described as "remarkable." "When homosexual conduct is made criminal by the law of the state, that declaration in and of itself is an invitation to subject homosexual persons to discrimination both in the public and in the private spheres," the majority opinion said. "The offense, to be sure, is but a ... misdemeanor, a minor offense in the Texas legal system. "Still, it remains a criminal offense with all that imports for the dignity of the persons charged," the court said. The majority in Lawrence focused much of its opinion on the right of every American to have "autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct." "The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives," wrote Kennedy, who was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens and David Souter, with Sandra Day O'Connor concurring. "The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making private sexual conduct a crime." Limited impact? The Lawrence decision thrilled gay attorneys and activists, energizing Pride festivals around the country last year. But the ruling also energized opponents of gay rights. Instead of expanding freedom, the majority in Lawrence created a right to engage in sodomy essentially out of thin air, said Rena Lindevaldsen, senior litigation counsel for the conservative Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based conservative counterpoint to Lambda Legal. But Lindevaldsen downplayed the ruling's impact on other gay rights cases. "I think it was more of a moral loss for the country than a legal loss," Lindevaldsen said. Fueling the marriage fight Both supporters and opponents of the Lawrence ruling cite the case as a factor that helped fuel the year-long, ongoing national discussion on gay rights, particularly the right to marry. Backlash over the sodomy ruling helped build support for the Federal Marriage Amendment, a proposal to change the Constitution to ban any legal recognition for gay couples that could see a vote in the U.S. Senate next month. Introduced on May 23, 2003, in the U.S. House of Representatives, the FMA had only 25 co-sponsors during its first month, but gained 50 more in the month following the Supreme Court's sodomy ruling. When the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court announced in November that the state's ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional, Lawrence was the first legal case referenced by the justices. "Even if Lawrence doesn't directly stand for marriage, it talks about people's autonomy in making choices." Nevins and Wolfson said the Massachusetts court relied far more on the state constitution than on the recent sodomy case, meaning a pro-gay marriage ruling likely would have occurred even if Lawrence was not a reality But Wolfson said the argument for gay marriage is made stronger by the Lawrence ruling. "The language and logic of Lawrence clearly gives us wind in our sails in ending marriage inequality," Wolfson said. Katine agreed. "I believe Lawrence will be the foundation for the ultimate Supreme Court marriage case," he said. As people wait to see how broad an impact I^iwrence has in the legal arena, the ACLU's Cooper said the decision "created a whole new world" for gays and lesbians, who are now "dreaming much bigger."
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