Houston Matters

How a Houston real estate attorney took on a landmark case for LGBTQ rights

Mitchell Katine talks about the case Lawrence v. Texas, which was decided 20 years ago today, and paved the way for a ruling legalizing gay marriage.


Attorney Mitchell Katine with John Lawrence and Tyron Garner
Carlos A. Martinez/REUTERS
Attorney Mitchell Katine (center) with John Lawrence (left) and Tyron Garner (right), whose case was the center of the 2003 landmark Supreme Court ruling on a Texas sodomy law, Lawrence v. Texas.


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On this day 20 years ago, the United States Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Lawrence v. Texas, a huge step forward in gay rights. The 6-3 decision struck down a Texas statute prohibiting private homosexual activity between consenting adults.

In 1998, John Lawrence and Tyron Garner, were arrested in Pasadena for engaging in consensual sex. At the time, Mitchell Katine decided to take their case despite being a Houston attorney specializing in real estate. Katine, who had been an activist for gay rights in the era of the AIDS crisis, took their case all the way to Supreme Court.

On this 20th anniversary of the ruling, Katine reflected on the case and its significance with Houston Matters host Craig Cohen.

Houston attorney Mitchell Katine stands in front of the Houston Matters logo
Troy Schulze/Houston Public Media
Houston attorney Mitchell Katine, who took the landmark case Lawrence v. Texas to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the audio above, they discuss the law passed in 1973 which made homosexual conduct a criminal act in Texas, the circumstances under which Katine’s clients were arrested, and what courts had to say about it leading up to the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2003.

They also discuss the basis on which the High Court found the Texas law unconstitutional. And they discuss the legacy of this Supreme Court decision and whether the current court would come to the same conclusion today.

Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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