Equality, Privacy and Lesbian and Gay Rights After Lawrence v. Texas
November 7, 2003
The Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas-striking down sodomy laws on constitutional privacy grounds-has been widely heralded as a landmark victory for lesbian and gay rights. What Lawrence means for lesbians and gay men, as well as what it means for privacy, equality, and constitutionalism, more generally, will be among the main topics of the Lawrence Symposium, which will feature an all-star line-up of legal academic commentators, who will present their views of the Court’s decisions.
By way of background, John Geddes Lawrence and Tyrone Garner were convicted of violating Texas’s “homosexual conduct” law, which had made same-sex sexual conduct a crime. Responding to what turned out to be a false report of a weapon’s disturbance, police found the two men engaging in anal sex in Lawrence’s apartment, arrested them, and jailed them overnight for offending Texas’s sodomy prohibition.
Lawrence and Garner eventually appealed their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, and on June 26, 2003, the Supreme Court struck down the Texas ban on gay sex, ruling that the law was an unconstitutional violation of the constitutional right to privacy, which protects consensual, sexual intimacies between adults. Along the way to its conclusion, the Supreme Court overruled its 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick decision, which had declared that homosexuals have no constitutional right to engage in consensual sex in private.
A reception with the presenters, moderators, and participants will follow the day’s program.