Louisiana Still Arresting Gay Men For Sodomy, 12 Years After Supreme Court Declared Laws Unconstitutional

arrest handcuffsConcerned about whether conservative states will acknowledge the legal reality of marriage equality—even if it’s handed down from the Supreme Court?

Well, Louisiana is still having a hard time accepting the demise of anti-sodomy laws, despite the fact that SCOTUS ruled them unconstitutional more than a decade ago.

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Police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana arrested two men last week under a statute prohibiting “unnatural carnal copulation by a human being with another of the same sex,” though the law was invalidated by the verdict in 2003’s Lawrence v. Texas.

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The men were discovered having sex in the backseat of a car parked in a public park after hours, and both were booked. At least one man was still in jail the afternoon after his arrest, though a judge eventually threw the “crime against nature” count out.

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The men still face charges of trespassing and having sex in public, but were specifically charged with “unnatural carnal copulation,” an unconsitutional statute that penalizes participants even if the act is private and consensual.

ThinkProgress reports the Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office has run unconstitutional stings as recently as 2013, where undercover officers sought out men interested in having sex and then arrested the men for “crimes against nature.” (None of the men were ever prosecuted, though.)
It’s gotten to the point where Police Chief Carl Dabadie had to send a memo to officers reminding them gay sex wasn’t a crime and not to arrest people for “unnatural carnal copulation.”
Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.