John Geddes Lawrence died on November
20 at the age of 68, gay weekly Metro
Lawrence was the lead named plaintiff
in the landmark 2003 U.S. Supreme Court case that overturned state
sodomy laws, making gay sex legal in the United States.
Lawrence and his partner, Tyron Garner,
found themselves on the wrong side of the law on a September night
when a policeman entered their unlocked Houston apartment, his weapon
drawn, and found the pair involved in anal sex. The men were
arrested that night for violating Texas' anti-sodomy law.
The next day they would begin down a
five-year path that would lead them to the steps of the Supreme Court
and the decision that altered the course of the gay rights movement
“At the heart of liberty is the right
to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the
universe, and of the mystery of human life,” wrote Justice Anthony
Kennedy in the court's opinion. “Persons in a homosexual
relationship may seek autonomy for these purposes, just as
heterosexual persons do.”
According to Lawrence's obituary he is
survived by his brother, his sister and her husband, two nieces and two
Tyron Garner died in 2006.