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.”
Forest through the trees
When Jay Maggio paints, it’s hard to not take a look. His tree-scapes are textural and impressionistic but with cool, modern touches. In other words, we likey. Craighead Green presents a three-artist exhibit including Maggio, Heather Gorham and Arturo Mallman. Despite different perspectives,their works are quite cohesive.
Splash the day away
It used to be splashing people with water balloons was reason to get grounded by the parents. Now it’s for all the right reasons. The LifeWalk Waterpalooza dodgeball tourney returns, with teams duking it out with water balloons to benefit AIDS Arms.
DEETS: Station 4 parking lot,
3911 Cedar Springs Road. 1 p.m. LifeWalk.org.
For The Women’s Chorus of Dallas to snag the Secret Sisters for the Southern Harmony Party is quite a feat. And if it benefits the chorus, well that’s not so bad either.
As municipal elections approach, the Collin County Gay & Lesbian Alliance has sent an online survey to city council, school board and mayoral candidates in Allen, Frisco, Plano and McKinney, and “meet-and-greet” sessions for candidates are planned in Frisco, Plano and McKinney in April.
The organization will also create and distribute a voters’ guide.
The Plano “meet-and-greet” will be held on Friday, April 8, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at a private residence. For more information, go online to CCGLA.org.
Results of CCGLA’s candidate surveys will be posted on the CCGLA website prior to each event. The events are informal, non-partisan, and all candidates are invited.
Oak Cliff Earth Day to feature vendors, info booths and more
Oak Cliff Earth Day, which has become the largest all-volunteer-run Earth Day since it started five years ago, will be held on Sunday, April 17, from noon to 5 p.m. at Lake Cliff Park, located at the intersection of Colorado Street and Zang Boulevard in Oak Cliff.
There is no charge to attend the event, which will include art, food, plants and other environmentally-friendly products available for purchase.
There will also be educational booths on topics such as how to save energy and clean up the environment, along with locally-grown honey, animals to adopt and native plants for gardens.
Parking at the park is limited, however, free parking is available at Methodist Hospital, in Lot 10 only, located at 1400 S. Beckley Ave. across from the hospital entrance on Beckley Ave. Methodist Hospital is providing a shuttle bus from the parking lot to the event.
Participants are also encouraged to take DART to the event or walk or ride a bicycle. There are a number of bike racks, funded by Oak Cliff Earth Day, at the park.
Mayoral candidates to speak Sunday on animal issues in Dallas
Dallas’ mayoral candidates will participate in a forum on animal issues in the city of Dallas on Sunday, April 10, at 2 p.m. at the Central Dallas Library, 1515 Young St., in downtown Dallas. The Metroplex Animal Coalition is sponsoring the forum, with is free and open to the public. Journalist Larry Powell with Urban Animal magazine will moderate.
The mayoral candidates are former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle, Councilman Ron Natinsky, real estate consultant Edward Okpa and Mike Rawlings, former Pizza Hut CEO and Dallas homeless czar.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.
The horses may be pretty to look at, and their presence is a sign of spring, but not everyone is thrilled to see mounted DPD officers in the area of the Katy Trail this year.
Earlier today the proprietor of the 7-11 on Fitzhugh told me the horses make a mess in his parking lot, and the officers refuse to clean it up, leaving him to do their dirty work.
As you can see in the above photo, two mounted officers were hanging out in the 7-11 parking lot earlier today, and not surprisingly, one of the horses dropped a deuce in a parking space. I watched the officers leave without cleaning it up.
“If anyone else did that they’d get a ticket,” the 7-11 proprietor told me. “Just because they’re police doesn’t mean they should be able to do whatever they want.”
It’s unclear why the police horses aren’t equipped with bags that catch their poop, but they’re not. Budget cutbacks?
In any case, this is clearly horseshit! Just wait till some queen from one of the nearby gay bars steps in that stuff. Then you’re really gonna have a problem.
The Dallas Police Department issued the following statement today in response to an unsubstantiated, viral e-mail claiming a huge increase in gang activity at NorthPark Center:
Safety at North Park Mall
There have been multiple inquiries in the last twenty-four hours from the media regarding safety at North Park Mall. These inquiries were apparently spurred by an e-mail from a mall patron who noted an increase in young people at the mall and increased police presence as well as from an informal conversation about the situation with off-duty officers there. Please know the following:
North Park officials report an increase in the number of young people at the mall, particularly around the movie theaters. The report we have from patrol and gang unit officers is that there is no discernable organized gang presence there. The Dallas Police Department’s gang unit did go to the mall during the week of the Super Bowl as a routine measure. They made one arrest. They then did a follow-up but found no compelling reason to continue monitoring the mall on a regular basis.
Reported crime at the mall is actually down since the first of the year as compared to the same time last year. There have been 14 reported Part 1 crimes (not counting shoplift cases) compared to 21 last year. And the overwhelming majority of the offenses both years involve thefts of or from vehicles in the parking lot. There have been two robberies and one aggravated assault reported in the mall so far this year. While those certainly are a concern, they closely parallel the number and kinds of crime seen in previous years and by no means suggest an up-tick in offenses at the mall.
In late January additional off-duty Dallas officers were hired by the mall in anticipation of an influx of visitors coming to Dallas for the Super Bowl. The mall decided to keep hiring additional officers, particularly on weekend evenings, as a precautionary measure.
It is always a best practice to be vigilant of your surroundings whether it is walking in your neighborhood or shopping at your favorite locations. North Park security and the Dallas Police Department will continue to work to keep the mall a secure and vibrant shopping area where the public can go with confidence of being safe.
• A woman who left her vehicle in the parking lot of the Black-eyed Pea early Saturday, Feb. 19 because she was “unable to drive” returned later in the day to find it stolen. The woman left her Acura RSX in the parking lot at 3857 Cedar Springs at about 12:30 a.m., according to a police report. She reported the vehicle stolen at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Inside the stolen vehicle valued at $9,000 were the woman’s purse, her keys and a Droid mobile phone.
• A woman reported that a man asked her to dance at Station 4 early Saturday, Feb. 19, then reached into her back pocket and took her credit card before running up more than $700 worth of purchases, police said. The suspect approached the woman at 2 a.m. inside the nightclub at 3911 Cedar Springs. He asked her to dance and “at the beginning everything was fine,” she told police. But when the suspect started reaching into her back pockets, she felt uncomfortable and asked him to stop. When he continued she pulled away and went to the bathroom, where she noticed her credit card was gone. She didn’t report the incident to club staff right away, but called police on Saturday afternoon and told them the suspect had spent more than $700.
• Havana Bar & Grill reported that someone broke out the glass front door of the business early Monday, Feb. 21. The incident occurred at about 4:20 a.m. at the nightclub at 4006 Cedar Springs, and the suspect is described as a black male, in his late 20s or early 30s, standing about 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighing 230 pounds. He fled in a white four-door vehicle that was possibly a Scion.
• Amico’s Pizza at 4032 Cedar Springs reported that someone broke into the restaurant late Thursday or early Friday, Feb. 18 by climbing through the duct system from an adjoining business, then dropping down through the ceiling. The suspect made off with an unknown amount of cash. The owner of Amico’s told police that “this has been going on for some time” and that on this occasion, he noticed footprints on the shelves and saw that the suspect had entered through the duct system.
The wooden cross at Atmosphere of Praise on Hall Street can be seen at left.
The city of Dallas wants a cross in the backyard of a property on Hall Street to come down. But apparently God doesn’t.
A cross standing for years in the backyard of the property at 3917 Hall is a city code violation and must be removed. The house is used by Atmosphere of Praise, a group founded by Pastor Linda Harris, who passed away on Jan. 5.
Local gay artist Robb Conover described Atmospere of Praise as “a meeting place for people in the community no one else will have anything to do with.”
He said that Byron Zealey lives at the property.
“Byron prepares lunch and invites people on the street to eat,” he said. “We don’t call it a church. We don’t have a parking problem. People walk there.”
Conover said it’s never a large group of people and not a daily occurrence. He said the house is not a shelter but has been used for meetings since 1999.
Councilwoman Angela Hunt’s office received a complaint from a local businesses. Hunt’s office didn’t say which businesses complained.
Hunt’s staff referred the complaint to city code enforcement. Code enforcement ordered the cross to be removed.
Conover thinks the timing is interesting coming just a week after Harris’ death — and after a notice in Dallas Voice included the address of Atmosphere of Praise.
To comply with the city order, the property owner hired someone to cut down the cross on Tuesday night. But as the workman began to cut it down, the chain on the chainsaw broke.
Zealey said he was consulting with an attorney. On Thursday morning, the cross was still standing.
Over the weekend we told you about the brutal stabbing of 28-year-old Aaron Scheerhoorn outside Club Blur in the heart of Houston’s Montrose area. Scheerhorn was fatally stabbed in the parking lot of the gay bar as patrons and security looked on. Police have said they don’t believe Scheerhoorn’s murder was a hate crime. Today, the Houston Press reports that authorities have made an arrest in the case:
Lydell Grant, 33, has been charged with murder. Police got his identity through a Crime Stoppers tip and he was arrested without incident during a traffic stop near the South Loop and South Main about 1 a.m. today, HOD says.
A 28-year-old man was brutally stabbed to death in a parking lot in the heart of Houston’s heavily gay Montrose area late Friday night. Police say the suspect, described as clean cut and tidy, chased down the victim in the 700 block of Pacific before stabbing him multiple times and calmly walking away. From the Houston Chronicle:
Authorities do not yet have a motive in the killing — or any evidence it was a hate crime — but several people witnessed the attack, in which the victim was stabbed in the chest, abdomen, forearm, left side and hand, said Houston homicide Sgt. W. Meeler.
“It was brutal. We think there was some sort of confrontation, and the (victim) ran away and was chased by the suspect and killed,” said Meeler, adding the suspect and victim likely did not know one another.
The victim, who was not identified, was attacked in the parking lot of a night club in the 700 block of Pacific. Police, however, believe the two men were likely in the roadway when the altercation started, not inside the tavern.
KPRC Channel 2 reports that the stabbing occurred outside Blur Bar at 710 Pacific St. and was witnessed by security and patrons. The station reports that witnesses described the attacker as a black man wearing a colored turtleneck.
Police said after the stabbing that they were talking to businesses near the scene to determine whether any had surveillance video that could help the investigation. Police spokesman John Cannon on Saturday told The Associated Press he had no information on how that effort has gone.
Although the victim was attacked in the parking lot, police believe he and his attacker were in the roadway when the altercation began and not inside the tavern. …
Cannon told the AP that a man ran to the door of the night club about 11:30 p.m. Friday, saying he had been stabbed. As he pleaded for help, Cannon said, a man wearing an orange turtleneck sweater and black pants approached the victim from behind and stabbed him several more times.
Meeler said investigators believe the man who did the stabbing took the knife with him because they did not find one at the scene.
Club patrons and security workers saw the attack, but Cannon said it’s not clear whether any of them tried to stop the stabbing or go after the assailant.
UPDATE:The victim has been identified as Aaron Scheerhoorn. Police say the incident was not a hate crime or a robbery, but may have been a crime of passion. The suspect, who remains at large, is described as a tall black man between the ages of 25 and 30.