Lawrence v. Texas was a landmark case,[1] decided in the Supreme Court of the United States on June 26, 2003, that ruled sodomy bans between private, consenting adults were unconstitutional.[2]

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The case originated in the state of Texas in 1998, when John Geddes Lawrence, Jr. and Tyron Garner were criminally charged under a "Homosexual Conduct" statute that stated it was a violation of the law if someone "engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex".[3] Garner and Lawrence were arrested by sheriff's deputies in Harris County, Texas, and each were accused of having "engaged in deviate sexual conduct namely, anal sex, with another man."[1]

Lawrence and Garner were represented by Lambda Legal. After the court refused to dismiss the case against them, their attorneys appealed to the case to the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals in 1999. A three-judge panel originally ruled in 2000 that the case violated the state and federal constitutions, but a subsequent review by that court in 2001 overturned the prior decision. Lawrence and Garner's attorneys then appealed at the state level in 2002 for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to review the case; the request was denied. The Lambda Legal attorneys then petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to consider:[1]

  1. If criminal convictions under Texas' "Homosexual Conduct" law, which criminalized same-sex couples for behavior that was legal for different-sex couples, violated the guarantee of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment;
  2. If criminal convictions for adult consensual sexual intimacy in their home violated their vital interests in liberty and privacy as protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and
  3. If the prior decision in Bowers v. Hardwick should be overruled.



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Krystyna Blokhina Gilkis, Legal Information Institute: "Lawrence v. Texas". Cornell Law School.
  2. The Associated Press: "Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Law Banning Sodomy" (2003-06-26). The New York Times.
  3. "Penal Code Chapter 21. Sexual Offenses". Texas Legislature.