On a September night in Houston, Texas two men found themselves on the wrong side of the law when a policeman entered their unlocked apartment, his weapon drawn, and found the pair involved in anal sex. The couple, John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner, were arrested that night for violating Texas' anti-sodomy law. The next day they would begin down a path that would lead them to the steps of the United States Supreme Court. There the decision to decriminalize sodomy in Lawrence V. Texas would alter the course of the GLBT rights movement forever.

The five year battle that started in a bedroom in Houston, Texas is the focus of a new documentary by the civil rights group that argued the case to the Supreme Court in 2002. Overruled! premieres today on the group's website – the fifth anniversary of Lawrence.

Overruled! tells the story of the case that brought down all sodomy laws, ending the criminalization of homosexuality in the United States. The film also looks at the influence the case has had on subsequent GLBT battles.

“We always knew that Lawrence was about so much more than sodomy laws – and so much more than sex,” said Lambda Legal Executive Director Kevin Cathcart in a recent newsletter.

The Lawrence decision has played an important role in deciding a range of cases that involved liberty and fairness.

Cathcart points out that the California Supreme Court cited Lawrence several times in its recent decision legalizing gay marriage. The court cited the case in rejecting the notion that history and tradition can justify discrimination, quoting Lawrence's now-familiar line: “...times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress.”

Lawrence was also recently cited by a federal appeals court panel's decision challenging the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy that bars gays & lesbians from serving openly. The panel agreed that based on Lawrence the military must prove that it has an important reason for enforcing the ban.

“The lesson here, as we celebrate the Lawrence anniversary, is that all aspects of individual liberty and equality relate to each other. And they build upon each other... We are as much a part of this great nation as anyone else – and that recognition is perhaps the greatest legacy of Lawrence.”

View the short Overruled! at www.lambdalegal.org/overruled