Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 17, No. 6, Ed. 1 Friday, June 9, 2000 Page: 1 of 125
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The Community Newspaper For Gay Lesbian Dallas
Houston appeals court rules sodomy
statute violates state's constitution
2-to-l ruling is based on Texas Equal Rights Amendment; ruling lacks statewide impact; appeal likely
By Dennis Vercher
A state appeals court in Houston on
Thursday declared the state's "homosexual
conduct" law unconstitutional, saying the law
violates the Equal Rights Amendment of the
The ruling was good news for the two gay
men who were arrested in Harris County in
1998 and charged with violating the law. Their
convictions were overturned by Thursday's
But the ruling was bad news for those who
had hoped the case would lead to the law
being struck down by a court of last appeal.
The ruling has legal force only in the 14th
Judicial District, covering mainly the Houston
The court's decision walls off gay legal
advocates from making further appeals. But
the state is entitled to appeal the ruling.
A representative of the Harris County
District Attorney's office, which prosecuted
the case, said the office probably would file an
appeal, but no final decision has been made.
The two defendants, William Geddes
Lawrence and Tyron Garner, were arrested in
September 1998 and charged with violating
the law, Section 21.06 of the state penal code.
Section 21.06 makes oral or anal sex
between members of the same gender a Class
C misdemeanor. The same acts are considered
legal when the sex parters are of opposite gen-
See SODOMY LAW on Page 12
William Geddes Lawrence, left, and
Tyron Garner were arrested in Harris
County in September 1998 and charged
with violating the Texas "homosexual
Ruling seen as bolstering gay families
In nuanced decision, Court upholds right of parents to limit visitation by
grandparents; gay legal experts say rights of gay parents strengthened
Although Monday's ruling does not
directly affect nontraditional families,
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's plurality
opinion recognized their growing
By Dennis Vercher
In a case gay legal experts said has ramifi-
cations for same-sex families, the Supreme
Court on Monday struck down a visitation
order issued under a state law giving any per-
son the right to seek court-ordered visitation of
someone else's children.
In ruling that a Washington state court
erred in granting grandparents visitation
against the parents' wishes, the justices dealt a
serious blow to outside interference in parent-
"So long as a parent adequately cares for
his or her children . . . there will normally be
no reason for the state to inject itself into the
private realm of the farm;} co further question
the ability of that parent to make the best deci-
sions concerning the rearing of that parent's
children," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, one
of the court's six grandparents, wrote in the
court's main opinion.
Signaling the complexity of the issue, the
court's 6-to-3 vote yielded six opinions from
the nine-member court.
While the court's opinion did not com-
pletely strike down the Washington State law,
the justices made it clear that the law was too
broad to be applied in visitation cases.
Washington state assistant attorney general
Maureen Hart said her office would advise
state governments and courts that the law is
moot since the Supreme Court let the
Washington Supreme Court's earlier ruling
All 50 states have some form of grandpar-
ent visitation laws, but few are as expansive as
The Washington law permitted "any per-
son," relative or not, to go to court and seek
visitation privileges. The law ir.strucr d state
courts to permit visitation regardless of the
parents' wishes, as long as the court found that
such visitation was in the child's best interests.
"We're gratified that the court recognized
that parents have a right to raise their children,
and we hope this will allow this family to get
on with their life in private," said Seattle attor-
See RULING on Page 24
June 9, 2000
Vol T 7 No 6
Sunday's Sing for the
Cure concert honors I
those affected by breast
cancer, including Gina
Cowgers, whose partner ^
of nine years died of j
the disease, f
Sage & Silo premieres
Queens for a Highf, a
unique documentary js
that features local drag
their fierce courage and
artist Ted Kincaid exper-
iments with pho-
togravures and water-
colors to explore new
Nothing stops Dallas l]
singer Kathy Corbin. ’ >)
After vocal chord
surgery, she's recovered
and performs Saturday
on the Razzle Dazzle
Dallas main stage.
Scoop, Stage, Television, Video, Books, Travel,
Sports, fitness, Dining, Community Events,
Broadcast Listings, Artsnotes, Cartoons
Q Puzzle, Starvoice, Scene.
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Vercher, Dennis. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 17, No. 6, Ed. 1 Friday, June 9, 2000, newspaper, June 9, 2000; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth615540/m1/1/: accessed September 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.