The true story of the case that helped change the legal landscape for gay rights in the U.S.:
The story told in Lawrence v. Texas was a story of sexual privacy, personal dignity, intimate relationships, and shifting notions of family in America. By the time the tale poured from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s pen, in his decisive majority opinion, it was even about the physical dimension of love: “When sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring.” The opinion used the word ‘relationship’ eleven times.
That is the story that Dale Carpenter, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, seeks to untell in his important new book, “Flagrant Conduct” (Norton), a chronicle that peels the Lawrence case back through layers of carefully choreographed litigation and tactical appeals, back to the human protagonists we never really got to know, and back again through centuries of laws criminalizing “unnatural” sexual activity. What if, Carpenter asks, this weren’t a story about love, or even sex?