John Geddes Lawrence, who successfully fought the Texas sodomy statute in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, died on Nov. 20 at the age of 68.
Lawrence is famous for his 1998 arrest by Houston police officers as he was engaged in consensual sex with another man, Tyron Gardner. Texas law at the time made oral or anal sex a misdemeanor, and the men were arrested, charged and convicted of the crime. The men appealed the convictions; the case worked its way through the courts and was finally heard by the nation’s highest court in 2003, which repealed anti-sodomy laws across the country.
Gardner passed away in 2006.
“Their fight and their historic victory cleared the way for marriage equality and the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ ” said Houston attorney Mitchell Katine. “They will be missed, but their contribution to our country and civil rights will live on forever.”