Lawrence v. Texas (2003)
In Houston, TX back in 2002, the police responded to a reported weapons disturbance situation at the home of John Lawrence. Upon entering Lawrence’s home, police found him and a man named Tyron Garner engaging in sexual acts. During those times that was not common. It can be argued that someone might have seen the sexual and act and call the police, something now seen as common and accepted.
Nevertheless, John Lawrence and Tyron Garner were arrested, booked, and convicted of deviate sexual intercourse in violation of a Texas statute law. This statute forbids two persons of the same sex to engage in intimate sexual conduct (Lawrence and Garner v. Texas). This case was taken all the way up to the supreme court. In a fair decision, likely based on religious beliefs, a final decision was made and proved acceptable by most.
The Supreme Court Decision
Lawrence v. Texas (2003)
Due Process and Liberty Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment protected men’s privacy. The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of Lawrence and Garner, testifying that the State of Texas had no “right to prohibit any sexual conduct between consenting adults” (Olson). Lawrence v. Texas is extremely controversial now because it poses the idea that the government should uphold the same standard for same-sex marriages and other same-sex acts.
The 6-3 decision by the Supreme Court is an important case when regarding domestic same-sex rights. This ruling has brought forth many other concerns and questions. If a couple is permitted to engage in same-sex relations, and their right to do so is protected under the Liberty Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, then why would not a same-sex couple be permitted the same freedoms when concerning marriage or adoption. Justice Kennedy, writer of the majority opinion said, “Liberty protects the person from unwarranted government intrusions.
Freedom extends beyond spatial bounds. Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct” (Lawrence v. Texas). So long as both parties are consenting adults, and they are not infringing on the freedoms of other citizens, they should be legally permitted to conduct themselves as they wish in the privacy of their own homes.
The same liberty accessible to traditional (heterosexual) couples should constitutionally be granted to non-traditional (homosexual) couples. “The right to privacy is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child” (Lawrence v. Texas).
Supposing that homosexual couples are now constitutionally protected to engage in intimate acts, and, though non-traditional, beget children, this case now also poses the idea that homosexual couples are constitutionally protected when engaging in marriage. Liberty protects people from unwarranted government intrusions. One can only assume that marriage is included in private and intimate acts in which the Liberty Clause restricts unwarranted intrusions by the government.
This case changed and impacted Americans’ right to legally choose their sexual and intimate partners, regardless of gender. So long as intimate acts are conducted in the privacy of one’s home, all relationships, heterosexual or homosexual, are protected under the Due Process and Liberty Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Now the legal question is posed whether or not homosexual relationships should legally be recognized. A gay-rights movement has taken place and several new court cases cite Lawrence v. Texas.
Some cases find in favor of gay rights including both Massachusetts and California when concerning same-sex marriage. Other examples are cases in Florida involving gay adoptions and a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision which cited Lawrence is holding for the first time that the military’s exclusion of openly gay members must be based on more than simple moral disapproval of homosexuals (Lindenberger 2008). Currently, there are 19 states with gay legal marriage.
The Lawrence v Texas Supreme Court ruling of 6-3 did not just define the rights of all citizens concerning intimate acts, whether homosexual or heterosexual, as protected under the Liberty Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It has in turn started a gay rights movement nationwide. Courts still have unfavorable rulings for some cases but the gay rights community is now making headway for equal treatment in all things.
“Lawrence v. Texas – Case Brief Summary.” Lawnix – Law Resources and legal information. http://www.lawnix.com/cases/lawrence-texas.html
“LAWRENCE AND GARNER v. TEXAS,” The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2002/2002_02_102
Lindenberger, Michael A. “The Court’s Gay Rights Legacy – TIME.” Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews – TIME.com. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1818504,00.html
“Week 5 Supreme Court,” Lecture Notes, American Military University. POLS210
“Gay Marriage”. ProCon.org Retrieved from http://gaymarriage.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=004857