Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas: How a Bedroom Arrest Decriminalized Gay Americans

Dale Carpenter. Norton, $29.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-393-06208-3
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In a presidential election year when the debate over gay marriage rages, Carpenter returns to the landmark 2003 Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas which overturned state laws criminalizing consensual homosexual sex. Carpenter’s probing research leads him to question the basic facts of the case: that in Houston in 1998, John Lawrence and Tyron Garner were engaged in anal sex when sheriff’s deputies entered Lawrence’s apartment, ostensibly looking for an armed man. Carpenter lays out the case’s background, including the machismo that dominated the sheriff’s office and Texas’s history of antigay laws. The story of this case is many-layered, from the stakes for the litigants to the cultural crosscurrents and often shifting societal values; strategic legal gamesmanship; and the prejudices and predilections of Supreme Court justices. Carpenter, professor of civil rights and civil liberty law at the University of Minnesota, integrates all of these parallel parts for a fully rounded account that captures the human and legal dimensions of this groundbreaking case. In his view of the case’s significance: “It was a judgment that gay sex, too, might lead... [to] lasting relationships.” Carpenter presents an engrossing depiction of a pivotal case in 21st-century American jurisprudence. 8 pages of illus. Agent: . (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/2012
Release date: 03/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
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