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20 Years - Celebrating Lawrence v. Texas / PANEL + RECEPTION + BANNER UNVEILING

Wednesday, October 25, 2023 (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM) (CDT)


Join Us for this Special Event Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Landmark Supreme Court Decision - Lawrence v. Texas

Wednesday, October 25, 2023 | 4:00 - 7:00 p.m.
4:00 - 5:30 p.m. - Panel
5:30 - 7:00 p.m. - Reception & Unveiling of New Banner

Downtown Aquarium


Join us for the Chamber's annual LGBTQ+ History Month event. LGBTQ+ History Month is an annual month of observance of LGBTQ+ history recognized in October. This year we will recognize and honor the 20th Anniversary of Lawrence v. Texas, the landmark Supreme Court case that reshaped the legal landscape regarding LGBTQ+ rights in the United States. 


Thank you to Chamber Platinum Corporate Partner, 
Fertitta Entertainment/Downtown Aquarium, for hosting this event. Join us at the Downtown Aquarium in the ballroom with Downtown Houston as the beautiful backdrop!


Hear from a distinguished panel convened to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Lawrence v. Texas, a landmark Supreme Court case that reshaped the legal landscape regarding LGBTQ+ rights in the United States. This landmark case set the stage for other landmark cases in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality. The cast originated from the arrests of John Lawrence and Tyron Garner in Houston, TX on September 17, 1998.

The panel will reflect on the path to this landmark case and how Lawrence v. Texas had dismantled the archaic sodomy laws that criminalized same-sex relationships, paving the way for greater equality and acceptance.

This SCOTUS decision had a profound impact in reshaping societal attitudes towards LGBTQ+ individuals and their right to love freely and openly. The legacy of Lawrence v. Texas continues to shape the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ rights, serving as a beacon of progress and a reminder of the importance of judicial precedent in the pursuit of equality and justice for all.  

Our panelists will delve into the legal and societal ramifications of Lawrence v. Texas, sharing insightful discourse and illuminating the strides made in dismantling discriminatory laws and advancing LGBTQ+ rights in the United States over the past twenty years. This anniversary panel discussion will not only celebrates the pivotal court decision but also will reflect on the ongoing journey toward equality and justice for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Don't miss this historic discussion and learn more about how Houston and leaders in the community played a pivotal role in this landmark case! Join us for this thought-provoking discussion celebrating 20 years of this Supreme Court ruling that changed the landscape for LGBTQ+ equality. 


Mitchell Avila Katine

Lane Lewis

Dr. Wesley G. Phelps

Mitchell served as local counsel for John Lawrence and Tyron Garner in the landmark United States Supreme Court case of Lawrence v. Texas. After getting out of jail, the two men came to Mitchell's office and hired him to represent them. He spent the next five years, with Lambda Legal as co-counsel, fighting the case all the way to the Supreme Court, and won.

Mitchell is a partner at Katine Nechman McLaurin LLP where he practices real estate litigation.
During the 90’s and 2000’s, Lane was an appointee of Mayors Bob Lanier, Lee Brown, and Bill White serving as an advisor to the City’s Health & Human Services and to HPD’s Police Advisory Committee, Citizen Review Committee, and Administrative Discipline Committee. During these years he searched for an opportunity to challenge 21.06; ultimately bringing forth the defendants for what would become the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas.

Lane currently owns his own insurance company and has far more time for his books, his dogs, and his video games (not necessarily in that order).
Dr. Wesley G. Phelps is an associate professor of history and director of undergraduate studies at the University of North Texas in Denton, where he teaches courses on recent United States history and queer history. His new book, titled Before Lawrence v. Texas: The Making of a Queer Social Movement, was published by the University of Texas Press in February 2023. He is also the creator of “Queering the Lone Star State,” a 10-episode podcast series chronicling landmark legal cases in the struggle for queer equality in Texas.


Cheryl Mercedes

Reporter & Anchor

Cheryl Mercedes is an Emmy and Murrow Award-winning investigative reporter and anchor at KHOU 11 News. She came to the Lone Star State from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she spent 12 years as an anchor and investigative reporter at WAFB-TV.

Cheryl was born and raised in the New Orleans area. She grew up watching local news with her family every evening and knew at a very young age that she would become a journalist. She graduated from St. Francis Cabrini High School, where she won her first journalism award for her work as yearbook editor. She went on to study broadcast journalism at Southeastern Louisiana University.

After earning her bachelor’s degree there, she went on to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She was recently named “Alumna of the Year.”

Cheryl has picked up several Associated Press awards including “Reporter of the Year.” The highlight of news career was perhaps traveling to Miami, FL to cover the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV.

When Cheryl is not chasing down the latest news tip, you'll likely find her running around the city, biking in the suburbs or swimming laps at a local pool.

As a triathlete, Cheryl has successfully raced Ironman Texas, Ironman Augusta, Ironman Memphis, and Ironman New Orleans twice. Her podium finishes at local races earned her spots at national championships in Omaha, Nebraska, Cleveland, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Join us for a reception immediately after the panel discussion to meet the panelists and other special guests as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of this Lawrence v. Texas. There will be a short program during the reception recognizing the panelists and unveiling a new banner as part of The Banner Project. Lite bites and one drink ticket will be provided. 


As part of the celebration, a mini exhibit of The Banner Project will be on display and a new banner will be unveiled. Join us to celebrate an individual who has given back so much to the LGBTQ+ community with a new banner in their honor.

The Banner Honoree this year is Emmett Schelling, Jr. (he/him) Emmett is the Executive Director of the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT). Join us to honor Emmett with this new banner and celebrate his leadership and impact on the LGBTQ+ community.

The Banner Project was originally undertaken as a display for the Creating Change Conference held in Houston in early 2014. It featured colorful banners that celebrated 27 LGBTQ+ events and people, covering 11 decades of Houston history. Since the initial showing, the banners have been used as a pop- up exhibit at various events and new banners have been added. There are now 48 banners (covering 1930-2010), which allow viewers to quickly grasp an overview of Houston LGBTQ+ history.


Thank you to our generous sponsors for your support of this event.



Sponsor this event! As we celebrate this historic anniversary, you can help the Chamber by supporting this important community event and celebration. Consider sponsoring this event and showcasing your support for the community.

Sponsor Benefits & Levels


Thank you to KHOU 11 for partnering with the Chamber on this important event again this year!

If your company would like to purchase multiple tickets for the event, please email or call the Chamber Office at 832-510-3002 with the number of tickets needed. The Chamber Team will follow up to secure your guest names and send an invoice. 

By registering and/or attending a Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce program or event, you agree to Chamber's Terms of Use & Policies available online at


Members: $15 in advance; $20 at the door
General Admission: $25 in advance; $30 at the door

Members: Be sure to log in to get the Members Only rate.

Downtown Aquarium
410 Bagby Street
Houston, TX 77002 United States

Nautilus Ballroom, 3rd floor

Self parking: A surface parking lot is available behind the Aquarium. The fee is $15 and can be paid by cash or credit card.

Valet parking: $18

Additional overflow parking is available in the theater district garages.

We encourage you to ride share to the event.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023 (4:00 PM - 7:00 PM) (CDT)
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