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Louisiana Sheriff's Office Apologizes For Unconstitutional Sodomy Arrests

Last Saturday, The Baton Rouge Advocate reported that the East Baton Rouge sheriff’s office had arrested over a dozen men since 2011 under a law forbidding "unnatural carnal copulation." In each arrest, undercover cops met men in the park, propositioned them and then arrested the men once they went somewhere private for sex.

Laws criminalizing consensual sex between same-sex partners became unconstitutional in the 2003 Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas. But even after the initial news report of the arrests, the office of East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux (pictured) released two (now deleted) Facebook statements explaining that it never set out "to target or embarrass any part of our law-abiding community,” and that his office would seek to remove the law from the books and find "alternative ways to deter sexual and lewd activity from our parks,” even though no lewd activities had actually taken place.

SheriffThe District Attorney refused to prosecute any of the arrested men for their offenses (citing a lack of evidence that any crime had actually taken place). Subsequently, the Sheriff's initial claim that he had no idea of the law's unconstituionality got him ridiculed by Baton Rouge city councilman John Delgado:

“Does he know that slavery is no longer around?” Delgado asked rhetorically. “Does he know that we have cars and no longer horse and buggies?”

The Sheriff's office has since apologized:

On Monday, Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux III issued a statement apologizing “to anyone that was unintentionally harmed or offended by the actions of our investigations.” The sheriff said that he had instructed his employees to no longer use “this unconstitutional law,” and that he was conducting “a comprehensive evaluation of undercover operations made by our deputies and will make changes to ensure better supervision, training and guidance.”

The story adds:

In each of the known cases in Baton Rouge, the district attorney’s office declined to prosecute, citing a lack of evidence that a crime, like prostitution, had taken place. Gay rights advocates and at least one public official have publicly questioned why sheriff’s deputies continued to make such arrests when the district attorney’s office had made it clear that such actions were not criminal.

“We need to find out when the sheriff was first informed that the D.A.’s office would not prosecute people under this anti-sodomy law because it’s unconstitutional,” said John Delgado, a Baton Rouge city councilman...

While Mr. Delgado said those arrested had a strong case for a civil suit, Mr. [Bruce] Parker (head of Equality Louisiana) said some of them were not openly gay when they were arrested and were unlikely to want further publicity.

“Many of their lives were dramatically ruined because of this,” he said.

Think Progress points out that 14 U.S. states still have anti-sodomy laws on the books despite their unconstitutionality.

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  1. The story as I originally read it was that gay men were arrested in their homes for arranging to meet other gay men. Correct? And the sheriff's department laughably released a statement about "gays masturbating in children's parks and we MUST protect the children...." Are nationwide legal eagles following this? Because that statement was removed from their official web page and I suspect they are prepared to have to open their checkbook after being sued to the hilt.

    Posted by: MIke | Jul 30, 2013 2:28:39 PM

  2. I still think this is a case of latent homosexuals getting their thrills out of participating in gay cruising, something they're attracted to, but terrified to act on in their private lives. This way they had an excuse to do it, all for the *noble* cause of doing their job as law enforcers.

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Jul 30, 2013 2:38:43 PM

  3. Sodomy should be illegal. The punishment should be the removal of the penis.

    Posted by: Dale | Jul 30, 2013 2:38:45 PM

  4. The sheriff should be fired.

    Posted by: Jack M | Jul 30, 2013 2:45:47 PM

  5. Stop picking up strangers in parks. Problem solved.

    Posted by: Hagatha | Jul 30, 2013 2:50:35 PM

  6. Law enforcers don't know the law?

    Posted by: Leroy Laflamme | Jul 30, 2013 3:13:30 PM

  7. "Lives have been dramatically ruined?" Then it's time to dramatically ruin Sid Gautreaux's life and those of all the offending policemen on his staff. As well as the life of the above commenter named Dale who's own penis should go down the toilet first.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Jul 30, 2013 3:13:47 PM

  8. Are hagatha and dale the same person? They both spout ridiculous anti-gay nonsense. I'm guessing Rick/Jason is behind dale, just as he is behind hagatha.

    Posted by: MateoM | Jul 30, 2013 3:19:24 PM

  9. ooooh!! ... Look at all those gold bars on his sleeve!

    Posted by: William Rehnquist | Jul 30, 2013 3:34:14 PM

  10. Racist, homophobic, misogonist misanthropic Law officers in Louisiana. who woulda thought! Meanwhile we faggots boycott vodka in Russia. Dumb fags never learn. Do we?

    Posted by: Kevin thor | Jul 30, 2013 3:47:13 PM

  11. If your life is ruined by this, the least you can do is sue the police department. It won't go to trial, as they will be eager to settle with you. That's the only way to make sure your name is expunged from the arrest record and that it never happens again. Plus, you get some money for your trouble.

    If your life is "ruined," it won't help to go back into the closet. Time to be out an enjoy life for once. With that settlement, you might be able to move out of the hell hole you are currently living in, and start a new life being an openly gay happy man.

    Posted by: Randy | Jul 30, 2013 4:04:05 PM

  12. The basic proposition of sunsetting all laws would get rid of what are known as "horse-and-buggy cruft". However, legislatures think laws are like public monuments to themselves and hate to think they'll be torn down.

    Posted by: anon | Jul 30, 2013 4:10:59 PM

  13. Except @Hagatha it's no more illegal to pick up a stranger in a park than it is in a bar or a church or on the Internet.

    Ignorant sheriffs stop illegally entrapping people, violating their free speech rights, and trying to enforce clearly unconstitutional laws. Problem solved.

    Posted by: Ernie | Jul 30, 2013 4:48:06 PM

  14. Hey sheriff, an "unconstitutional law", as you call it, is not a law.

    Posted by: trees | Jul 30, 2013 5:00:59 PM

  15. Civil suit? The participating officers had no authority to make these arrests. They should be criminally charged with false arrest, false imprisonment (if they took anyone into custody), with whatever enhancement they have for misuse of authority.

    Posted by: JJ | Jul 30, 2013 5:33:51 PM

  16. sue the pants off of him

    Posted by: RJ Abada OFM | Jul 30, 2013 6:30:21 PM

  17. More like "sorry we got caught" being bigoted assholes.

    If your male officers wanted a date, I am sure you could of gotten into several uniform fetish sites to get to know your future husbands.

    Posted by: Mmike1969 | Jul 30, 2013 11:09:58 PM

  18. Not good enough. They need to be charged, tried and convicted of civil rights violations. Only this will send a message to other homophobes in power there are consequences for such hate.

    Posted by: Mighty | Jul 31, 2013 9:29:54 AM

  19. Oral is unnatural carnal copulation, too. I wonder how many of the cops are guilty.

    Posted by: Book | Jul 31, 2013 11:23:21 AM

  20. Dogs lick their dicks and balls and each others all the time, BOOK, and there's nothing MORE natural than a dog.


    Posted by: billy | Aug 14, 2013 5:08:27 PM

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