Despite the unconstitutionality of the statute, Louisiana continues to support an anti-sodomy law which has been on the books since the 1970s. This is especially troubling as allegations surfaced last year of actual enforcement of the law.
Anti-sodomy laws were struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States back in 2003 in the case Lawrence v. Texas. Despite that clear precedent, there are states in which certain types of sex between consenting adults is considered illegal (even if those laws have been nullified by the highest court in the land). One of those states is Louisiana.
State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith (D-East Baton Rouge) submitted a bill to the legislature in an attempt to repeal the 1970s era "crimes against nature" anti-sodomy bill. Although the bill did make it successfully out of committee, an attempt by progressive lawmakers to have it removed failed last week in the House of Representatives 27-66. She expressed disappointment at the difference between the support in the committee and the lack of support in the full House.
I thought it would do better. Some of the folks who voted to get it out of committee voted against it on the floor.
On her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow broke down the events which prompted Haynes Smith to make her attempt to overturn the law. In July of last year, reports surfaced that a sheriff was using his deputies in Haynes Smith's district to entrap men in bars and parks into a supposed "violation of the state's anti-sodomy law." A spokeswoman from the sheriff's department, Casey Robinson, denied that entrapment at bars took place, and pointed to the fact that sting operations occurred in public parks.
The issue here is not the nature of the relationship but the location. These are not bars. These are parks. These are family environments.
Except, of course, that Robinson's response doesn't make a whole lot of sense. As Maddow explains, no sex actually took place, and the men were charged specifically with violation of the anti-sodomy statute, even though they eventually did have the charges dropped and their records expunged.
Essentially, a cute undercover cop saying to a guy, "hey do you want to go home with me?" and a guy responding "yes, I would like to go home with you." And then BOOM! Handcuffs! And it's not part of the date; it's off to jail. And the crime, the reason the sheriff's office gave for arresting people in this circumstance was that Louisiana has a state sodomy law. It's illegal to be gay... Or at least to act gay in that particular way.
...At least Maddow also reminds us that that on the same day as this happened, the lawyer tasked with defending California's Proposition 8 in the Supreme Court has announced his views on same-sex marriage "are evolving" (THANKS, OBAMA!) and he is now planning his daughter's wedding... to a woman.
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