Remembering John Lawrence, the man behind Lawrence v. Texas

Lawrence

John Lawrence and Tyrone Gardner

Metro Weekly reports that one-time Houstonian John Geddes Lawrence, the “Lawrence” in Lawrence v. Texas, passed away last month at the age of 68:

“In the facts underlying the Supreme Court case, Lawrence v. Texas, Lawrence and Tyron Garner were arrested under Texas’s Homosexual Conduct Law after police entered Lawrence’s home on Sept. 17, 1998, and saw them “engaging in a sexual act.” The couple challenged the law as unconstitutional”

I was 22 and living in Dallas in 2003 when the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Lawrence declaring Texas’ law against “homosexual conduct” unconstitutional. A group of over 100 people gathered in the parking lot of the Resource Center of Dallas as Dennis Coleman, then with Lambda Legal, read excerpts of the decision. I remember the exuberant electricity in the air, the crowd bubbling with joy and the relief of centuries of official oppression finally coming to an end. Similar get-togethers took place across the state, as an entire community breathing a collective sigh of relief.

That relief has turn to frustration over the years. Although the Supreme Court decision rendered Penal Code Section 21.06 unconstitutional, the law remains on the books, and efforts to remove it have met with significant resistance. During a hearing this spring on finally removing the unconstitutional law, Rep. Jose Aliseda, R – Pleasanton, lamented that repeal of the law would entail removing portions of the Health Code requiring that HIV education efforts include information that “homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense under Section 21.06, Penal Code.”

Before Lawrence several attempts were made to remove the law against “homosexual conduct.” The Texas legislature voted to remove it from the penal code as part of a complete rewrite of the code in 1971, but the measure was vetoed by Gov. Preston Smith. In 1973 the Legislature again undertook a rewrite of the code, keeping “homosexual conduct” a crime but making it a class C misdemeanor. In 1981 a U.S. District Court ruled in Baker v. Wade that the law was unconstitutional, but as that case was winding its way through an unusually torturous appeals process the Supreme Court ruled in Bowers v. Hardwick that a similar law in Georgia was constitutional, making the questions in Baker moot. Similarly, in the 90′s there was hope that Texas v. Morales might finally prevail in defeating the “homosexual conduct” prohibition, but the Texas Supreme Court decided that since, in their opinion, the law was rarely enforced, there was no reason for them to rule in the matter.

Lawrence’s legacy lives on in a scholarship named after him and Garner administered by the Houston GLBT Community Center. The scholarship “recognizes outstanding leadership shown by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Texas high school seniors and college
students by contributing to the cost of their continuing education. Selection is based upon character and need.” Tim Brookover, president of the community center, expressed sorrow at Lawrence’s passing “John was a hero, the community owes a great debt of gratitude to John and Tyrone for taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court,” said Brookover. “They could have easily allowed it to slip away, but they decided to stay and fight and that makes them heroes and role models.”

The application deadline for the John Lawrence/Tyrone Gardner Scholarship is March 2, 2012.

—  admin

Update on Ray Hill’s arrest

Ray Hill

Ray Hill

As previously reported by Houstini, longtime Houston LGBT activist Ray Hill was arrested last night after a confrontation with police outside Treasures, a gentlemen’s club on Westhiemer Rd. Hill has been released from jail and posted the following message to his Facebook page:

I was arrested trying to stop power arrogant cops from bullying frightened and vulnerable people (this is not my first rodeo) There will be a trial; they will lie under oath; I will show the video of the whole incident; I will win and then sue and win that case. The system works if you have the tools to use it properly. My lawyer and I will make money off the city in this process. The cycle will end when the City of Houston stops trying to treat adults like they were children…


—  admin

UPDATE: Suspect arrested in D.C. shooting

Police in Washington, D.C., have charged Darryl Willard with “assault with intent to kill while armed,” in connection with the shooting early Monday of a transgender woman in southeast D.C.

Washington, D.C. police are investigating the death of this unidentified person who was found wearing facial make-up and carrying a pair of light-colored heels

According to the Washington Post, after being shot at about 1:50 a.m. in the 2300 block of Savannah Street SE, the victim walked to the Seventh District Police Headquarters to report the crime. The Post reports that the victim knew her attacker and gave his name to police. Willard later turned himself in to authorities.

The victim, who is not named in the newspaper’s article, was taken to the hospital and is expected to recover from her injuries.

In the meantime, police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a man whose body was found early Saturday, according to reports by the Associated Press. Police said that when the man’s body was found, he had makeup on his face and had with him a pair of light-colored high-heel shoes. The man appears to be Hispanic or Middle Eastern and between the ages of 25 and 30.

Police said they have no information on whether the dead man was gay or transgender, and that his body showed no signs of trauma.

The Monday shooting was the fourth time in less than two months that a transgender woman has been shot or shot at in the D.C. area. On July 20, Lashai Mclean died after being shot by a man who approached her as she walked with a friend in the city’s Northeast section. The man asked Mclean a question and then pulled a gun and shot her before she could answer, according to the friend, who was uninjured.

Eleven days later and just blocks away from the site of Mclean’s murder, a suspect approached another trans woman, asked for change and then pulled a gun and shot at her before she could answer. The shot missed and the woman was uninjured.

And in August, a D.C. police officer on medical leave was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon after he stood on the hood of a car and fired into the car containing two men and two trans women. One of the men was injured slightly in the attack.

—  admin

US Marshal harassing DADT protesters who were arrested at White House fence

On the heels of the news that the Obama administration continues to hound Dan Choi, and other DADT dischargees, to pay DOD thousands of dollars because they were discharged under DADT, today we learn that the US Marshal is visiting the homes of the protesters who locked themselves to the White House fence in the past few months. Ostensibly the visits are to inform the protesters of their upcoming court case in March, but I’m told by Robin McGehee of GetEqual that previous court notices were mailed to them – they’ve never had the US Marshal show up at their homes.

It smacks of intimidation.

These cases shouldn’t even exist. They should be, and should have been, dismissed. If the President is going to brag at the State of the Union about how all troops, gay and straight, are now one, thanks to him, then he needs to start acting like it. This is his administration. He has the power to make these court cases against the protesters go away (he has the power to stop defending DADT and DOMA in court as well), and he has the power to stop the Defense Department from trying to force servicemembers discharged under DADT to pays thousands, and in some cases tens of thousands of dollars, because they were discharged under DADT.

This is the reason so many of us are constantly perturbed with this White House. It doesn’t seem that anyone there fully understands that they’re in charge, that they have actual power. We constantly hear how powerless they are, how the president isn’t king and isn’t God. No, he’s not – but he is the president of the United States, which is no small shakes. It’s not entirely clear they full get that fact. If the administration’s representatives continue to harass our troops and our civil rights organizers, then it is the White House’s fault, because they are not doing nearly enough to stop it.

They have the power to stop it. So stop it.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Arrested Birther Attended Rally with LaBarbera

TeresaCaox390 (Screengrab) | Advocate.comTeresa Cao, who was arrested Thursday for disrupting the reading of the U.S. Constitution in the House of Representatives, attended a rally in May that featured remarks from the antigay activist Peter LaBarbera.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

Prop 8-Loving Pastor Tom Daniels Arrested On Child Molestation Charges

Finally someone has volunteered to take Pastor Eddie Long's place in the Disgusting Men Of God headlines contest. Meet Pastor Tom Daniels. He's the head pastor at First Baptist Church in Rio Linda, California, outside Sacramento. He's a proud Prop 8 supporter. Oh, and he's being held on million bond for multiple child molestation charges.

CONTINUED »


Permalink | 10 comments | Add to del.icio.us


Tagged: , , ,

Queerty

—  admin

KANSAS: Disabled Iraq Vet Arrested For Stalking Westboro Church Members

An 26 year-old veteran who lost both his legs in Iraq has been charged with stalking members of the Westboro Baptist Church after police found him following the Westboro family van in a car stocked with handguns, a rifle, and dozens of rounds of ammunition.

Sedgwick County sheriff’s detectives arrested Newell mid-morning Tuesday in the Wichita City Hall parking lot after a detective saw him following a van that carried Westboro church members. The church members were meeting in City Hall with police officials. Detectives found Newell in a vehicle backed into a parking space. In the vehicle, investigators found two handguns, a rifle and more than 90 rounds of ammunition, sources have said. The stalking charge accuses Newell of actions targeted at Westboro members and putting them in fear for their safety. The weapons charges accuse him of unlawfully carrying and concealing or possessing with “intent to use” an M4 rifle, .45-caliber Glock handgun and .38-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun.

At Newell’s arraignment several lawyers arrived to offer pro bono defense services, prompting the judge to quip, “The more, the merrier.” Reportedly “many other lawyers” have contacted him with the same offer. Newell, who uses a wheelchair due to difficulties adjusting to Army-supplied prosthetic legs, pleaded not guilty via a video link from his cell. He is being held on 0,000 bond on one felony and several misdemeanor charges. Other charges may be filed pending the result of an FBI search of his home.

Westboro’s Megan Phelps comments on Twitter: “Peacefully protesting institutionalized sin on public sidewalks =\= loading up your car with weapons & lying in wait to commit murder. But somehow, in the totally backward minds of many of you, the former (loving our neighbor) is worse than the latter (planning murder)! Wtf?” Phelps claims that Newell was planning to murder her parents and the 26 children in the Westboro clan.

A defense fund has been set up for Newell via several popular conservative websites. Late this afternoon the Facebook page “Let Ryan Newell Go” was established. Westboro will continue with their planned Hanukkah picket of a Harvard student Jewish group tomorrow.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

13 Activists Arrested at White House

DADT PROTEST WHITE HOUSE 20101115 X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMActivists calling for the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” have been arrested for handcuffing themselves to the White House
fence Monday afternoon.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

Duane Arrested at HIV Die-in

NEW YORK SENATOR THOMAS DUANE X390 (WNYC) | ADVOCATE.COMEighteen people, including New York state senator Thomas
Duane, were arrested Tuesday during an HIV die-in — a protest of Gov. David Paterson’s veto of a rent stabilization bill for low-wage earners with HIV.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

Las Vegas Pastor Arrested for ELEVEN Sexual Abuse Charges

This same pastor was charged in a similar case in 2005, and many of his flock stubbornly stood by him:

A pastor of a Las Vegas church was arrested Friday on 11 sexual abuse charges, five years after a similar case against him was dropped.

North Las Vegas police arrested Billy Eckstine McCurdy, 57, following an eight-month investigation into allegations that he sexually assaulted teen boys at his home….

The new charges involve two teen boys who said McCurdy forced them into sexual relationships with him. They told police he used his position in the church and Bible scriptures to force them into sex acts, authorities said.

I’m wondering if they have learned their lesson about blind faith now that their pastor was able to molest more of their children?

Of course, it goes without saying the whole using biblical scriptures and position within the church to molest the teenage boys sounds eerily similar to another case we’ve been following.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright