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The Crime of Homosexuality Versus Civil Rights
December 5, 2002

John Lawrence and Tyron Garner are gay adults. Who cares? They had sex with each other in John’s bedroom. Who cares? God may, but He told me to let Him be the Judge.

But the cops responding to a report of an armed intruder who entered John’s apartment cared! So did the Prosecutor! You see, there’s a law on the books in Texas, where Mr. Lawrence lives, that makes it illegal to have anal or oral sex in some cases. It’s not a crime if it’s a girl taking it up the rear end or giving the blow job, or a man munching carpet, but even those acts are illegal in nine states!

Mr. Lawrence could have defended his own case. The police were responding to a report of an armed intruder. They didn’t find that. They found the tenant at home in no imminent danger. That means they didn’t have cause to enter the home without a warrant or consent to obtain evidence of the crime with which he was charged. Had he prevailed on that claim, the Prosecutor would have had to try him without the testimony of the cops.

The Prosecutor was, of course, under no obligation to pursue or drop the case. They were under no obligation to recognize that the false police report was also a crime. They didn’t even, at that point, have to come up with a reason why two cops without backup would enter a private home for something that might warrant a SWAT team. Lawrence paid the fine.

The result is that John Lawrence will have to register as a sex offender if he moves to some states. He is ineligible for some jobs. None of this would be a consequence had Tyron Garner been a woman.

Just 16 years after upholding sodomy laws on a 5-4 vote, the United States Supreme Court will consider whether Texas’s "Homosexual Conduct Law" is constitutional.

I think this is really unfortunate, but not because I think the law is constitutional. It obviously makes acts which are legal for some, illegal for others based on gender. It’s unfortunate because that may be the basis of the decision. It might not do anything to decriminalize homosexuality in states in which only criminals go down on their wives.

The issue may well be whether it’s constitutional to make it illegal to be homosexual, but the bigger issue is whether an adult has the right to have sex with another consenting adult in the privacy of our homes without the state having an interest in what they do. Unfortunately, that issue may not be decided in this case.


CNN 11-20-98

Jan Russell Commentary

The Decision

Tyron Garner died in 2006

John Lawrence died in 2011

Some other things I've written about: 

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