Study Guide

The Road to Lawrence v. Texas

  • As recently as 1986 case Bowers v. Hardwick, Supreme Court upheld state laws outlawing gay sex
  • In 1996 case Romer v. Evans, however, Supreme Court overturned a law banning protections against anti-gay discrimination, ruling the law had no rational basis
  • In 2003 case Lawrence v. Texas, Supreme Court overturned Texas law banning gay sex, ruling it had no rational basis

As recently as 1986, the Supreme Court took an overtly hostile stance toward homosexuality. In Bowers v. Hardwick, the Court ruled that state "morals legislation"—including anti-sodomy laws, which criminalize gay sex—were constitutional. In defending the power of states to pass laws that criminalized homosexual acts, Justice Warren Burger noted that "condemnation of [homosexual activity] is firmly rooted in Judeo-Christian moral and ethical standards." And he even cited (rather provocatively) the eighteenth-century legal scholar, William Blackstone, in support of his twentieth-century conclusion. "Blackstone described 'the infamous crime against nature' as an offense of 'deeper malignity' than rape, a heinous act 'the very mention of which is a disgrace to human nature,' and 'a crime not fit to be named.'"blank" href="https://www.shmoop.com/equal-protection/same-sex-marriage.html">Same-Sex Marriage & the 14th Amendment."