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Law on same-sex sex acts unlawful (Lawrence v. Texas)

Lawrence v. Texas

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The State of Texas passed a law making it a crime for two people of the same-sex to engage in intimate sexual activity.

Harris County police officers were dispatched to an apartment complex following a report of a weapons disturbance. When police entered the apartment, however, they found Lawrence (defendant) engaged in sexual activity with another man, Garner (defendant).

Both men were arrested, charged, and convicted under the law prohibiting same-sex sexual activity. The convictions were affirmed, and the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to review the case.

The majority expressly overturned Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), which had upheld a similar Georgia statute, and concluded that the liberty interest safeguarded by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protected the right of consenting adults to engage in private sexual conduct.

That said, the Court was far from unanimous. Nevertheless, as predicted in Justice Scalia’s dissent, Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), did set the stage for the Supreme Court’s holding in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015), that the right of same-sex couples to marry was protected by the Constitution.

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