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Quinn had discretionary authority to charge them for a variety of offenses and to determine whether to arrest them.When Quinn considered charging them with having sex in violation of state law, he had to get an Assistant District Attorney to check the statutes to be certain they covered sexual activity inside a residence. Its outcome was celebrated by gay rights advocates, and set the stage for further reconsiderations of standing law, including the landmark case of Obergefell v. The case attracted much public attention, and a large number of amici curiae ("friends of the court") briefs were filed.A second officer reported seeing them engaged in oral sex, and two others did not report seeing the pair having sex.

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On November 20, Lawrence and Garner pleaded no contest to the charges and waived their right to a trial.

Justice of the Peace Mike Parrott found them guilty and imposed a 0 fine and court costs of .25 on each defendant.

When the defense attorneys realized that the fine was below the minimum required to permit them to appeal the convictions, they asked the judge to impose a higher penalty.

Justice Byron White's majority opinion emphasized that Eisenstadt and Roe had only recognized a right to engage in procreative sexual activity, and that long-standing moral antipathy toward homosexual sodomy was enough to argue against the notion of a right to sodomy.

Justice Blackmun, writing in dissent, argued that Eisenstadt held that the Constitution protects people as individuals, not as family units.