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LGBT LIBERATION: Chicago Activists Mobilize Around Upcoming Supreme Court Decision Critical to Gay Rights

Tyron Garner and John Lawrence
What if police barged into your home and arrested you and your partner for having consensual sex?

That's exactly what happened to John Lawrence and Tyron Garner on on September 17, 1998. They were two adults having consensual sex in the bedroom of John's apartment in Houston. The two men spent the night in jail and are now considered sex offenders in several states. Texas is one of 13 remaining states that still have sodomy laws on the books. John Lawrence and Tyron Garner were not the first nor the last to suffer from legalized homophobia.

In 1986 a Georgia sodomy law was challenged all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in Bowers v. Hardwick. In 1982 officers were let into Atlanta gay bartender Michael Hardwick's apartment to serve a warrant and found him in his bedroom having sex with another man. Both were arrested and charged with sodomy. The Court ruled 5-4 against Hardwick. Ever since, courts and legislators have cited the Hardwick decision as an excuse to take children away from same-sex couples, ( video links ) to deny equal access to jobs, housing, public accommodations and more.

Now, 17 years later, the Supreme Court has a chance to revisit the Hardwick decision. The plaintiffs contend that the sodomy law should be struck down not only on privacy grounds, but also because it violates the Equal Protection Clause by permitting sexual intimacy only for heterosexual couples and therefore turns queers into a sexless second class with less rights than other citizens. The Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision on Thursday, June 26. [ CABN Update | DC-IMC background story ]

Activists in Chicago and across the US plan on celebrating if the Court strikes down the Texas law, and will protest if the law is upheld. Either way, it is widely viewed as the most significant Court decision on LGBT issues in a generation. Read More

Related Links:

  • Chicago Area Anti-Bashing Network (CABN)
  • Lambda Legal's Supreme Court Case Challenging Texas's "Homosexual Conduct" Law




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