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Lawrence v. Texas

In June, 2003, the United States Supreme Court ruled under Lawrence v. Texas that all anti-sodomy laws were unconstitutional and unenforceable for consenting adults having non-commercial sex in private.

In 1998, an unidentified resident of Houston, Texas called the police and reported an weapons disturbance at the apartment of John G. Lawrence.  When the police got there, the police found no weapons. What they did find, was John Lawrence having sex with another man, Tyron Garner.  The men were arrested, held in jail overnight, and fined $200 for violating the Texas statute known as the Homosexual Conduct Law, which prohibited deviant sexual intercourse, also referred to as sodomy.  Fortunately for all of us, the two men sued the state of Texas, claiming that that they had been denied privacy rights and equal protection under the law when they were arrested for engaging in consensual sex between adults.

The case, Lawrence v. Texas, went all the way to the US Supreme Court through a series of appeals.  Writing the court's majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy decalred that an adult's right to engage in consensual sex was protected under the term liberty in the Fourteenth Amendment, which states "No State ... shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property; without due process of law."  Moreover, Kennedy asserted "When homosexual conduct is made criminal by the law of the state, that declaration is in and of itself an invitation to subject homosexual persons to discrimination both in the public and in the private spheres."

Lawrence v. Texas has ignited a modern re-evaluation of the question: does a society have a right to control or influence sexual activity between adults?