Houston Man In Landmark Gay Rights Case Dies

Tyron GarnerHOUSTON, TEXAS – Tyron Garner, one of two men whose 1998 arrests led to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down bans on sodomy, has died, according to a spokesman for the legal firm that represented him.
Garner died early Monday at a Houston hospital, said Mark Roy, a spokesman for Lambda Legal in New York City. Garner had been suffering from meningitis and had been in his brother’s care for the past six months.
“Over the last few months, he lost the use of his legs from meningitis,” Roy told The Associated Press.
Garner and John Lawrence were arrested after police — sent by a bogus report of an armed intruder — burst into Lawrence’s apartment and found the two engaged in consensual sex. They were jailed overnight and charged with breaking Texas’ Homosexual Conduct Law, which banned oral and anal sex between people of the same gender.
In its landmark June 2003 ruling, the Supreme Court said that what gay men and women do in the privacy of their bedrooms is their business and not the government’s.
The 6-3 decision invalidated laws in Texas and 12 other states. It also galvanized both sides in an ongoing national debate over whether homosexuals are entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals when it comes to marriage and adoption.
Garner, who sold barbecue from a street stand, told the Houston Chronicle in 2004 that it was hard to endure the loss of his privacy.
“I didn’t enjoy being outed with my mugshot on TV,” he said. “It was degrading to me.”
But the result was worth it, he said.
“I don’t really want to be a hero,” Garner said. “But I want to tell other gay people ‘Be who you are, and don’t be afraid.'”
from The Houston Chronicle

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