If You’re Able To Buy Alcohol, Sodomy Was Illegal In Your Lifetime

Photo of Lamda Legal Fundraiser (supplied by Todd Sears)

Do you give to gay causes? May it be time or money, how do you support the LGBTQ Community and the fight for equality, protection, and advancement?

Maybe you don’t and that is fine.  Maybe you work in a non-profit that helps out community and we thank you.  But what we should do is recognize those that do fight to help us all do better, be better, live better. And if you were born 

Todd Sears, Founder and CEO of Out Leadership, every year hosts the annual Fire Island Pines community fundraiser for Lambda Legal.

Lambda Legal, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

The idea for Lambda Legal itself was conceived of in Fire Island Pines around a pool, by both straight and gay leaders. Lambda’s first case was suing the State of New York for its right to exist. Their application to register as a charity was denied because it was a “gay” charity.
 
Lambda Legal focuses on taking cases that have the potential for making groundbreaking changes to case law, with their most recent win being an 11-year case against Hobby Lobby.  Another well-known LGBTQ court case was that of Lawrence v. Texas case, stretching from 1998 to 2003 (timeline and video at the end of this post for you history buff and those that need to be educated) which overturned all sodomy laws in the United States. Sears has been the host of the event in Fire Island Pines since 2003, the year Lambda Legal won Lawrence v. Texas. 
 
Tyron Garner, left, and John Lawrence, right, celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, June 26, 2003 (screen grab from video below)

It’s hard to believe that sodomy laws have been unconstitutional less than 20 years, but also unbelievable that this is the 43rd year of the Lambda Legal fundraiser, which has been promoted to be the longest running LGBTQ fundraiser in America. 

Why is June 26th legally so Gay?

On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Windsor v. U.S., struck down as unconstitutional the federal Defense of Marriage Act’s interpretation of “marriage” and “spouse” as applying only to opposite-sex unions. On June 26, 2015, the court held in Obergefell v. Hodges that all states must lawfully recognize and perform marriages of same-sex couples.

But neither of these monumental rulings would have happened without the grandest Supreme Court decision of all, Lawrence v. Texas, decided on June 26, 2003.

The goal is always to do bigger and better than the previous year and for the past 18 years, they have upped the money raised.  Would COVID put a stop to that trend?

The 2021 fundraising tally was more than $210,000, of which about 90% will go directly to supporting Lambda Legal and their work.

Putting on an event like this would not be possible without a large supporting cast, I’m very grateful for the many amazing folks from the Pines community who gave unstintingly of their time to make the event a resounding success. – Todd Sears

Even after a pandemic year, where over 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced across 31 States, this event was a reminder of the resilience and commitment of our community to full equality.

So even if you don’t donate your time or money, we should honor those that do so, the ones that fight for our rights and our community.  Thanks Lambda Legal for your fight and thanks for those who keep donating and supporting. 


History of Lawrence v. Texas

  • September 1998 Police arrest John Lawrence and Tyron Garner in Lawrence’s private apartment and charge them with having consensual sex in violation of Texas’s “Homosexual Conduct” law.
  • December 1998 Motions to quash the charges against Lawrence and Garner as unconstitutional are denied by the Harris County Criminal Court. The men plead “nolo contendere,” preserving their right to pursue their constitutional challenge to the law.
  • November 1999 Lambda Legal presents arguments to the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston challenging the men’s conviction.
  • June 2000 Court reverses the conviction of the two men and overturns Texas’s “Homosexual Conduct” law, declaring it unconstitutional.
  • March 2001 After rehearing the case, a larger panel of the Texas Court of Appeals overturns the earlier appellate ruling, upholding the men’s conviction.
  • April 2002 Texas’s highest criminal court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, refuses to hear Lambda Legal’s appeal.
  • July 2002 Lambda Legal asks U.S. Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of Texas’s “Homosexual Conduct” law. The case presents the high court with two independent constitutional claims that Lambda Legal urges it to review: one based on equal protection, the other based on rights of privacy and liberty.
  • December 2002 U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear the case.
  • January 2003 Lambda Legal files its brief urging U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Texas’s “Homosexual Conduct” law.
  • March 2003 Lambda Legal presents oral arguments before U.S. Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Texas “Homosexuality Conduct” law.
  • June 2003 Victory! In landmark ruling for lesbian and gay Americans’ civil rights, U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the “Homosexual Conduct” law.

For more information on Out Leadership, check out their homepage

 

 

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