The Widdershins

Welcome to the 21st century Louisiana!

Posted on: August 3, 2013

Careful boys!

Careful boys if you’re in Baton Rouge!

It appears that some folks in Louisiana have had to be informed that we are now in the 21st century and that laws against “sodomy” were struck down in the 20th century by the Supreme Court.  The court said in that decision that:

intimate consensual sexual conduct was part of the liberty protected by substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. Lawrence invalidated similar laws throughout the United States that criminalized sodomy between consenting adults acting in private, whatever the sex of the participants.

That was news for East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Dept. because they conducted a sting in a local park and arrested twelve gay men who were, in essence, meeting at the park looking for hookups.  Not hookups at the park mind you, but meeting and if agreeable, going to a private home or apartment for some drinks and to see where things went from there.  You know, like what happens in a lot of straight bars on Friday and Saturday nights.  The E.B.R.P. District Attorney, knowing a few things about the law and the Constitution, stated he refused to prosecute the cases because “his assistants found no crime had occurred.”.   In a moment of supreme idiocy, Sheriff’s spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks made the following statement:

“This is a law that is currently on the Louisiana books, and the sheriff is charged with enforcing the laws passed by our Louisiana Legislature,” Hicks said. “Whether the law is valid is something for the courts to determine, but the sheriff will enforce the laws that are enacted.”

Well “Boy Howdy!” as Maddow would say.  You know what else they say Ms. Hicks?  Ignorance of the law is no excuse.  The D.A. did correctly state that parts of the law covering sex in public and the solicitation of “unnatural carnal copulation” for money remain illegal.  However, while running her mouth some more, Ms Hicks revealed the true reasoning behind the “entrapment” and arrests:

…the Sheriff’s spokeswoman revealed the real purpose of the arrests, “saying a park ‘is not the place to initiate or attempt to initiate sexual relations,’” the Advocate adds:

“The issue here is not the nature of the relationship but the location,” she said. “These are not bars. These are parks. These are family environments.”

Sorry Ms Hicks, it still doesn’t matter and your statement does reveal the true intent of the arrests.

Andrea Ritchie, a civil rights attorney said “It’s really unfortunate that police are continuing to single out, target, falsely arrest and essentially ruin the lives of gay men in Baton Rouge who are engaged in no illegal conduct,”.  Peter Renn with Lamda Legal added:

“the pattern of ‘unlawful arrests over multiple years’ suggests authorities are using the stings as a means to harass gay men.

“The fact that this has been going on for a two-year period is unbelievable,” Renn said. “This is basically like the police putting up a sign that says ‘Please sue me.’ ”

And that apparently is what one attorney is willing to do under the 2003 Supreme Court ruling.

“For the Sheriff’s Office to be setting these kinds of sting operations up is a waste of time because they can’t prosecute these things,” Damico said. “I think the statute itself has incredible problems.”

And Ms Hicks, still batting a thousand here, added the following to this mess:

Hicks said deputies arresting the men in these cases swore affidavits of probable cause that were “presented to a judge for review to set a bond.

“In the cases we discussed, bond was set,” she said. “In effect, the judges concurred that there was probable cause for an arrest.”

If so, then color the judges clueless too.

Part of (or the main part) the problem is Louisiana’s crime against nature statue.  It goes back to 1805.  Louisiana Revised Statute 18:49 has several parts to it as was stated previously.

It is still used today in part to criminalize bestiality, as evidenced in 2010 when local authorities charged a man seen trying to have sex with a dog.

But the statute also includes language banning “the unnatural carnal copulation by a human being with another of the same sex or opposite sex.” That prohibition, however, was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, a ruling that prompted then-state Attorney General Richard Ieyoub to issue a statement saying the state’s anti-sodomy law would be unenforceable except for provisions banning sodomy for compensation and sex with animals.

Yale Law School professor says “so what” to the entire thing with the sheriff’s dept. and their motives.

“If two adult men can have consensual oral sex in private, they can invite another adult man to do that in private,” said William Eskridge, the Yale Law School professor. “So even if there were a verbal offer and acceptance, it would be constitutionally protected, so long as no money was involved and the men were of age.”

Again, Ms Hicks has to add some more fuel to fire (or continued to dig her own grave) when she said “the operations that led to two arrests this year came after the park ranger telephoned the task force commander directly.  But Cheryl Michelet contradicted that statement saying the parks have “not had a number of complaints on this issue.”  Quell surprise Ms Hicks!

In an effort to quell the firestorm, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux issued a statement:

“The Sheriff’s Office has not, nor will it ever, set out with the intent to target or embarrass any part of our law-abiding community,” the Sheriff’s Office statement says.

“We will consult with others in the legislative and judicial branches to see what can be done to remove this law from the criminal code that each deputy receives and to also find alternative ways to deter sexual and lewd activity from our parks,” the statement says.  [bolding/italics mine]

OMG Sid!!    😯
That was enough to send one Metro Councilman over the edge saying

“The newspaper article makes it quite clear that nothing of the sort occurred in these 12 arrests,” Delgado says. “These men were arrested even though they were innocent of any crime.”

Delgado said the deputies’ actions are violations of the civil rights of these men under the 5th and 14th amendments. He said the Sheriff’s Office cannot claim it was unaware of the change in the law.

But this isn’t over by a long shot.  The lege is going to have to deal with revising the revised statue.  And they are apparently going to attempt that this month at their August meeting.

“As we have on a number of issues, we will work with (East Baton Rouge) Sheriff Gautreaux and other regional law enforcement officials to craft a workable solution and get input so that appropriate legislation could be filed for consideration during the Regular Session,” said state Rep. Steve Carter, a Republican and chairman of the Capital Region Legislative Delegation.

Yeah, well good luck with that.

Lawmakers weighed in on the issue Tuesday, saying although fixing the issue would involve simply striking the unlawful language from the code, that the move could face an uphill battle due to political reasons.

One lawmaker, state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, said lawmakers fear a vote to strike the language will be “misconstrued” as support for gay rights.

As one commenter on the above column stated:

It’s pretty simple… Either the legislature gets rid of the unconstitutional language as it should, or someone files a lawsuit, and the people of Louisiana pay all of the legal fees, etc. that would be involved in what would be an unwinnable case. We’re probably going to be on the hook already for lawsuits by the people who were arrested.

Regarding state Sen. Dan Claitor’s claim that “lawmakers fear a vote to strike the language will be ‘misconstrued’ as support for gay rights,” maybe he and the other lawmakers that he’s referring to should worry more about being construed, quite rightly, as idiots.

This is an open thread.

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15 Responses to "Welcome to the 21st century Louisiana!"

Sounds like someone (ACLU? LAMBDA?) needs to sue and challenge the law as it stands.

Louisiana Outside the NOLA corridor is really wanting to have its statehood revoked…failure to follow Federal Laws technically could cost it federal dollars. Remember when LA refused to raise the drinking age to 21 and faced the loss of federal transportation dollars?

Really with all the other troubles :Lil’ Bobby Jindal and his Keystone Cops have going for them why is this parish sheriff making it harder for them…

Fuzzy said: why is this parish sheriff making it harder for them

Because he’s an idiot?

I think too that ole Sid needs to be getting another spokesperson while he’s at it.

I’m not into casual sex but for some of these guys maybe they don’t like going to bars, or maybe they don’t want to be seen going into a gay bar (clergy or maybe a cop?) so perhaps this park is just a place to sort of scope someone else out. I mean, how many scenes either from movies or teevee shows have we seen two straight people “meet and greet” (and size each other up) in the supermarkets? Same thing as the guys at the park.

Fredster The Republican party is the most dysfunctional family in America they don’t Know whether to wind their butt or scratch their watch.

This is good for 2014 I am beginning to see the Clinton’s move on 2014 with Bill building support for Alison Lundergran Grimes against Mitch (turkey neck) McConnell:

It would be a coup for Hillary and Bill and would show political strength by having their candidate kick ol’ Mitch’s a$$ back to the Bluegrass State.

Fuzzy@5: That would be great if McConnell was sent packing. Of course he’d probably come right back as a lobbyist but at least he wouldn’t be in the Senate.

Yes I do believe this would happen in Alabama. 🙄

Fuzzy@5: I just played the youtube with Bill. That was a good advert.

@5 ROFL and sad, but true! Oh well, we can all take comfort in the knowledge that the most dysfunctional family in America is not our own.

Mary Luke@9: Amen to that!

Isn’t the real issue here just another example of social stratification, i.e. “Our good public parks aren’t meant for gay people, the “public” in public parks means good God-fearing, heterosexual, families where they engage in sodomy in the privacy of their adulterous bedrooms.”

Ordinarily legal challenges take forever and a day — this one is a lay down (no pun intended). Since it is unconstitutional on its face, a quick declaratory judgment action filed by the prosecutor’s office would end this little charade.

Just as effective would be a civil suit against the bigoted Sheriff. Personally I think it would be interesting to ask the Sheriff during discovery, “What do you do with all the information you collect during your precious little sting operation? Did you save any numbers?”

Prolix asked: Isn’t the real issue here just another example of social stratification,

Interesting question. That could indeed be behind it.

“What do you do with all the information you collect during your precious little sting operation? Did you save any numbers?”

Supposedly, the records will be expunged. But, how do you insure that? I’m not sure.

Another thing regarding the legislators being afraid of fixing the statute and being labeled as “pro-gay” or whatever….they are kind of wondering if Jindal would even sign the legislation. You know the boy genius has to protect those conservative credentials.

@12, expungement is only actionable for those records kept in the ordinary course of business, i.e., official state records. Any notes that made it into the Sheriff’s notebook wouldn’t be expunged, just saved for later or saved for blackmail.

A sheriff who knowingly did what this guy did has some unresolved issues and some “latent sexual” prosecution issues.

Prolix@14: re the sheriff’s notes…see that’s the problem: how do you insure anything like that is destroyed?

A sheriff who knowingly did what this guy did has some unresolved issues and some “latent sexual” prosecution issues.

Agree completely.

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