8 JUNE 27, 2003
www.houston voice.com HOUSTON VOICE
Attorneys, clients in sodomy case 'thrilled'
Gay Houston attorney points
out far-reaching implications
of U.S. Supreme Court decision
By PENNY WEAVER
The historic U.S. Supreme Court decision
to strike down Texas' so-called "homosexual
conduct" law sent ripples of joy throughout
the country, but nowhere was the excitement
more palpable than in Houston, where the
Gay Houston attorney Mitchell Katine
and others who have worked on Lawrence
and Garner v. Texas for five years — and on
the move to eliminate the Texas sodomy law
in political arenas — rejoiced at the news
"At first we knew we had won but we didn't
know what we had won on," Katine said. "Quite
frankly, I could not imagine that the court
would actually overrule Bowers v. Hardwick.
"When I got the decision that this was an
ovemiling of Bowers v. Hardwick, I knew this
was even a further reaching decision than on
the right to equal protection," Katine added.
"This is a much further reaching decision than
I could have imagined. We're very excited."
The Supreme Court struck down the state's
ban on gay sex Thursday ruling that the law
was an unconstitutional violation of privacy
Gay activists and attorneys had argued that
Gay Houston attorney Mitchell Katine has helped
lead the case on behalf of John Lawrence and Tyron
Gamer since the two were arrested in Lawrence's
liedroom in 1998.
the Texas statute was not only a violation of
right to privacy but also a violation of equal
protection guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.
This week's ruling reverses Bowers v.
Hardwick, the infamous Supreme Court 1986
decision that upheld a Georgia anti-sodomy
law similar to the Texas statute.
Katine said gay Houstonians John Lawrence
and Tyron Garner, the two men arrested in 1998
in Lawrence's be-droom, originating the challenge to the Texas law, are amazed at the nationwide reaction to the decision.
"I called John and Tyron and congratulated them and let them know that we could not
have done this without them and their willing
ness to be out in the forefront," Katine
said. "John and Tyron...1 think they
truly appreciate today...the historic
significance of their contribution.
"They are thrilled. They are excited. They are happy," he added. "They
understand the significance of this
decision on the country.
"I spoke to them this morning and I
was able to give them the news. They
were both thrilled. They were both just
beside themselves," Katine said. "They
appreciate today that the whole nation
has been watching this. They know
that it's because of their willingness to
go forward. I think that they truly
appreciate the significance of this."
Katine actually first heard the news from
his mother. At 9:12 a.m. Thursday as members
of the media and fellow attorneys surrounded
Katine's desk, awaiting the official decision,
the phone rang. It was Katine's mother.
"[She said] '-Congratulations, son - you won!"'
Katine said. "I said, 'Mom. that's fantastic.'"
He emphasized the potentially far-reaching effects of the Supreme Court ruling.
"All I'm saying is that what this decision
has done is it puts me and my partner on the
same grounds as our heterosexual neighbors,"
Katine said. "We all have the right to privacy in
this country We all have the right to not have
the government telling us what we can do and
what we can't do in our bedrooms as adults."
On a lighter note, Katine is ready for
Saturday's Houston Pride Parade — particular
The office of Harris
County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal
handled the Lawrence
case on behalf of the
state of Texas.
significant this year in light of
the Lawrence v. Texas decision.
Tve been telling people let's
wait for this decision and then you
can go have sex," Katine said with a
laugh. "We are now free and we are
going to have one hell of a Pride
parade The rally is going to be great
"Everyone needs to know
that every case is important and
we all have civil rights that can
be protected. We can actually
win," Katine said.
The office of Harris County
District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal
represented the state of Texas in the
Lawrence and Garner v. Texas case.
Rosenthal, who initially argued the case for the
state, could not be reached by press time Thursday
But Rosenthal said last fall that his office was
prepared to vigorously defend the Texas law.
"One of the things that we've done is
we've sworn to uphold the Constitution of the
State of Texas and of the United States, and
we're fulfilling our oath," Rosenthal said.
Bill Delmore, the Harris County assistant
prosecutor who also worked on the case, in the
past has said that the Legislature should throw
out the sodomy law if that's what Texans want.
"My concern was primarily that the decision be made in the Legislature so we could
protect the people's right through their elected representatives to determine what conduct they believe to be immoral and ought to
be against the law," Delmore has said.
Gay Houstonians celebrate court ruling
Pro-gay decision in time for
Pride; celebration rallies held
across the state
By PENNY WEAVER
Pride 2003 has taken on a whole new
meaning this week for gays across the
nation and particularly in Houston.
The Thursday decision by the U.S.
Supreme Court that effectively strikes
down anti-gay sodomy laws across the
nation came in time for Pride Week. The
case that raised the challenge to Texas' so-
called "homosexual conduct" law originated in Houston.
So gay Houstonians prepared for an
even more raucous Pride Parade on
Following the Supreme Court
announcement of its decision, gay
activists and supporters across the nation
planned celebrations Thursday night. In
Houston, the rally was held on the steps of
city hall, and speakers included Mayor Lee
Brown and gay attorney Mitchell Katine,
who was involved in the case of Lawrence
and Garner v. Texas since it began in 1998.
John I.awrence and Tyrone Garner, the
two men whose arrests in
Lawrence's Houston bedroom
led to the sodomy law challenge, also were to be present at
the Thursday rally at city hall.
Across the nation, gay
activists planned celebrations
after the ruling. Cities in Texas
that planned rallies, in addition to Houston, included
Galveston, Austin, Dallas
Guided in part by the
National Supreme Court Civil
Rights Rally, activists also
were to gather in Atlanta,
Boston, Cleveland, Detroit,
Los Angeles, Miami, New
Orleans, Milwaukee, San
Seattle and Washington, DC,
"Local organizers around
the country are stepping up to the plate
and taking the lead in defending their communities," said Robin Tyler, co-coordinator of the civil rights rally group, of the
independently organized rallies. "Each
community controls the event in their
town and most of the 29 have reached out
to us to help publicize and gain national
visibility for their efforts.
"While Canada, where I was born, just
Sue Nut. also the mother
of a gay son and daughter.
said in reaction to
Thursday's Supreme Court
decision: 'No longer wHI
my children be selectively
branded as criminals simply for loving someone of
the same gender.'
legalized marriage, we in the
USA are still fighting for what
should be the basic human
right of equal protection under
the law," Tyler added.
Sue Null, secretary for
Families & Friends of
Lesbians & Gays), was scheduled to speak at the Thursday
night rally at Houston City
Hall. Her comments included
"I feel like I've been bouncing all day on one of those
children's moon walks. No
longer will my children be
selectively branded as criminals simply for loving someone of the same gender.
"I come before you today as
a member of PFLAG and as a
loving mom of a lesbian daughter and gay
son," Null said. "No mother, cradling her
new baby in her arms, expects this child to
grow up to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or
transgender But every mother wants her
children to have equal opportunity in the
world, to find someone to love, and to be
safe And all children deserve their moth
er's unconditional love, regardless of the
gender ot the person they lovt.
"How could any mother tell her GLBT
children that they don't deserve the same
opportunities as their straight siblings?,"
Null said. "How could any mother teU her
GLBT children that they don't deserve the
same rights? Equal respect? How could any
mother have the arrogance to deny her
children the right to love whom they love?
"Not all of us have the privilege of
learning to embrace a son or daughter
who is a sexual minority," Null said. "I am
grateful to ray own children who have
opened doors to a whole new community
of people whom I wouldn't otherwise
know if it were not for them. They, and all
of you, have offered my husband and me
an opportunity to grow in sensitivity,
compassion, and admiration for your
great courage and strength, often in the
face of fear and adversity
"Hopefully, [Thursday's] decision will
lead to a change in the public's perception
of sexual minorities, which in turn will
lead to greater safety, safety on the streets,
safety in the job market, and safety in all
aspects of life," Null said. "Misguided religious, social and political forces will continue to rail against sexual minorities,
and we have a long way to go before our
loved ones achieve true equality, but
PFLAG is with you all the way! Justice