A new federal lawsuit could finally put an end to Mississippi’s unconstitutional sodomy law.
The suit argues that a 2003 Supreme Court ruling, which said that gay sex was constitutionally protected by the 14th amendment, should apply to the state of Mississippi and its prohibition of “unnatural intercourse.”
“Despite this clear proclamation made more than a decade ago, Mississippi continues to enforce its criminal statute prohibiting sodomy, titled unnatural intercourse, by requiring people convicted of unnatural intercourse to register as sex offenders and follow myriad, onerous prescriptions on their everyday life,” reads the lawsuit filed last month in Jackson.
The sodomy laws itself states: “Every person who shall be convicted of the detestable and abominable crime against nature committed with mankind or with a beast, shall be punished by imprisonment in the penitentiary for a term of not more than ten years.”
In addition to blocking enforcement of the law, the federal suit seeks to remove its plaintiffs from the sex offender registry and expunge all records indicating their past inclusion.
The suit has named Attorney General Jim Hood as one of its defendants. Hood responded in a statement that he would fight to protect the “constitutionality of [Mississippi’s] sex offender registry.”
“The Supreme Court unequivocally declared this kind of “sodomy” statute unconstitutional thirteen years ago…[when it ruled that the] mere existence of sodomy statutes is an invitation to subject the LGBT community to discrimination,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Staff Attorney Ghita Schwarz, who filed the suit alongside Jackson-based attorney Rob McDuff.
“And yet, 13 years later, Mississippi still has an Unnatural Intercourse statute on the books, and still enforces that statute by requiring people with those convictions…to register as sex offenders for 25 years, a devastating consequence that causes enormous financial and social burdens.”
In response to the lawsuit, Special Assistant Attorney General Paul Barnes has asked to dismiss the suit with prejudice, which would prevent it from being brought back up.
Earlier this year, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed HB 1523 into law, which would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT folks on the basis of religion. Thankfully, it was eventually struck down.
h/t: The Clarion-Ledger