The New York Times announces the untimely death of one of the co-defendants in Lawrence v. Texas with the headline "Tyron Garner, 39, Plaintiff in Pivotal Sodomy Case, Dies".
It may seem to the public that Lawrence and Garner were plaintiffs, because they were the appellants, and their names are listed first on this famous case. However, let us not forget that in truth they were criminal defendants, who had been convicted of the criminal offense under Texas law at the time of "Homosexual Conduct".
Yes, Lawrence and Garner will be remembered as standing up for their civil rights. But it’s important to remember that the case actually revolved around whether or not Texas could constitutionally criminalize consensual, adult homosexual activity. This is spelled out quite clearly as the issue presented to the court, in the fifth sentence of Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion:
The question before the Court is the validity of a Texas statute making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct.
The fact that it was "only" classified as a Class C criminal misdemeanor, doesn’t mean that Texas couldn’t have made it a more serious criminal offense. The arguments the State used to justify its position would have also justified making this felonious conduct. After all, Garner and Lawrence were arrested and taken to jail based on this statute. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court took the opportunity to overrule Bowers v. Hardwick.
Sadly, I should also point out that the Times is also reporting that former Texas Governor Ann Richards has died at the age of 73.