Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 33, Ed. 1 Friday, December 30, 2011 Page: 4 of 44
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HISTORIC VICTORY | John Lawrence, right, and Tyrone Garner, at a press conference in Houston
in 2003. (Associated Press)
John Lawrence, the man behind
Lawrence v.Texas, dies
One-time Houstonian John Geddes Lawrence,
the "Lawrence" in Lawrence v. Texas, passed
away last month at the age of 68.
Lawrence and Tyron Garner were arrested and
charged under Texas' Homosexual Conduct Law
after police entered Lawrence's home on Sept. 17,
1998, and saw them in bed together. They chal-
lenged the law as unconstitutional.
I was 22 and living in Dallas in 2003 when the
Supreme Court issued its opinion in Lawrence de-
claring Texas' law against "homosexual conduct"
unconstitutional. A group of more than 100 people
gathered in the parking lot of Resource Center Dal-
las as Lee Taft, then regional director of Lambda
Legal, read excerpts of the decision. I remember
the exuberant electricity in the air, the crowd bub-
bling with joy and the relief of centuries of official
oppression finally coming to an end. Similar get-to-
gethers took place across the country, as an entire
community breathed a collective sigh of relief.
That relief has turned to frustration over the
years. Although the Supreme Court decision ren-
dered Penal Code Section 21.06 unconstitutional,
the law remains on the books, and efforts to re-
move it have met with significant resistance. During
a hearing this spring on finally removing the uncon-
stitutional law, Rep. Jose Aliseda, R-Pleasanton,
lamented that repealing 21.06 would also entail re-
moving portions of the Health Code requiring that
HIV education efforts include information that "ho-
mosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle
and is a criminal offense under Section 21.06,
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 in 1971,
but the measure was vetoed by Gov. Preston
Smith. In 1973 the Legislature again undertook a
rewrite of the code, keeping "homosexual con-
duct" a crime but making it a class-C misde-
meanor. 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 the
appeals process, the Supreme Court ruled in Bow-
ers v. Hardwick that a similar law in Georgia was
constitutional, making the questions in Baker
moot. Similarly, in the '90s 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.
John Lawrence's legacy lives on in a scholarship
named after him and Garner that is 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 educa-
tion. Selection is based upon character and need."
— Daniel Williams
Another pedestrian hit on strip
A 72-year-old pedestrian was struck in the
crosswalk on Cedar Springs Road at Knight Street
at about 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 22. He was taken to
Parkland Hospital and released on Christmas Day.
Lyle Bainbridge said he was crossing the street
in the crosswalk and vehicles had stopped in both
directions, when a motorist sped around the
stopped vehicles and hit him.
He said he was thrown and his head landed in
the gutter just inches from the car that hit him.
The driver of that vehicle stopped and told Bain-
bridge that he was delivering pizzas and was on
his cell phone talking to the owner of his store.
Bainbridge said the man was apologetic and in
tears when he got out of his car.
Bainbridge has a broken collar bone. Doctors
detected heart defibrillation problems that may
have been a result of the accident. He said he had
not been diagnosed previously with heart prob-
lems. Bainbridge, who is from California, is in Dal-
las for the holidays house-sitting for a friend.
This is the fourth time a pedestrian has been hit
on Cedar Springs Road in two months and the
third time near this same location.
It was unclear whether the driver who hit Bain-
bridge received a citation. Sr. Cpl. Melinda Gutier-
rez, a spokeswoman for the Dallas Police
Department, said an accident report was not yet
— David Taffet
4 dallasvoice.com ■ 12.30.11
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 33, Ed. 1 Friday, December 30, 2011, newspaper, December 30, 2011; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239200/m1/4/: accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.