Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In Baton Rouge Consensual Gay Sex Can Still Get You Arrested

Sid Gautreaux
You know how folks make jokes about the South and how backwards it all seems? Turns out, sometimes, hell, a lot of the time, it’s true. Like this story from down in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where it appears that the Sheriff’s Office has been conducting stings to find men willing to have consensual gay sex and then arresting them for, ahem, crimes against nature.

Now, there isn’t a hint that any money changed hands, so these crimes cannot be considered prostitution; these are men, adult men, consenting to have sex with other adult men in the privacy of one of the men’s homes. And yet, for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, that warrants arrest after arrest; at least a dozen since 2011, with the most recent occurring about two weeks ago.

These men arrested for the crimes of consensual sex, have never been prosecuted because they have committed no crime; consensual sex between two adults, two adult males, is not a crime, even in Louisiana. But still, men are being arrested and jailed and paying fines for doing nothing wrong.  

Casey Rayborn Hicks, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office, released a statement, and she and the department clearly do not realize that they aren’t arresting criminals:
“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. Whether the law is valid is something for the courts to determine, but the sheriff will enforce the laws that are enacted. … The issue here is not the nature of the relationship but the location.
These are not bars. These are parks. These are family environments. Manchac Park, where the stings have largely taken place, has been known as a place where “cruising” for anonymous sex takes place, but neither talking about sex nor agreeing to sex are violations of obscenity laws.”
But the men are not having sex in the park, or in any other public place; after being propositioned by the undercover officers, the men go to their own homes, and that is where they are arrested. Apparently just having sex violates the law in Louisiana.

Except it’s not supposed to violate the law. When Lawrence v Texas—a landmark decision by the Supreme Court striking down sodomy laws in Texas, and thirteen other states, including Louisiana—then-Louisiana Attorney General Richard Ieyoub issued a statement asserting that the state’s anti-sodomy law could not be enforced, except in cases of prostitution and bestiality.

And yet, in backwards Louisiana the law stayed on the books for a sheriff, Sid Gautreaux,  who has nothing better to do than to troll parks asking men to have sex with undercover officers, to use as a weapon. And is now claiming ignorance as his excuse, with his office releasing a new statement: 
"To our knowledge, the Sheriff’s office was never contacted or told that the law was not enforceable or prosecutable."
And that lame explanation, the excuse of ignorance of the law, isn’t sitting too well with at least one Louisiana lawmaker, Baton Rouge Metro Councilman John Delgado:
“Does [Gautreaux] know that slavery is no longer around? Does he know that we have cars and no longer horse and buggies?”
Delgado is demanding apologies be issued to the 12 men who were arrested.

Gautreaux's office is now saying they will no longer enforce the out-dated law, and will work with state legislators to have it removed from the books. But that doesn’t explain the hows and whys that the sheriff’s office targeted these men, nor does it explain their strange explanation for doing so:
“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. Our goal is to Protect and Serve the public. When we receive calls from the public about lewd activity near our children, we have to respond. Our park operations, conducted at the specific request of the BREC Park’s Ranger, were an attempt to deter or stop lewd activity occurring in the park near children.
The deputies in the cases were acting in good faith using a statute that was still on the books of the Louisiana criminal code. The deputies used a statute that they felt fit the situation in order to remedy the concerns of the parents and park officials. The deputies presented sworn affidavits of probable cause, a set of circumstances that would lead a normal person to believe that a crime has been committed or will be committed, to judges for review. In the cases we have reviewed, the judges set bond, in effect concurring that there was probable cause for arrest. To our knowledge, the Sheriff’s office was never contacted or told that the law was not enforceable or prosecutable.
In hindsight, however, we feel we should have taken a different approach. 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.
We want to reiterate our intent in these cases. It was NEVER to target a certain segment of our population. It was only in response to parents, park officials and members of the public concerned that our parks were not safe. When we receive reports of public masturbation, sex and other lewd activity in a park where children are playing, me MUST take these concerns seriously. Our intent was honorable, our approach, however, is something we must evaluate and change.
The Sheriff’s Office is not concerned with what consenting adults do in private residences. We are concerned with what is going on in public, especially a public place frequented by children. In light of new information, we feel that we need to work with our deputies to provide them with better resources and training to deal with these issues in more appropriate ways. It is very important to us that the public understands our intent and agenda was safety and never prejudiced toward any group.”
They never intended to target gay men, they just approached gay men and asked if they wanted to have sex, went back to the man’s apartment with him, and then placed him under arrest using a law that has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.


Back.Wards. And this is why the South gets a bad rap.


5 comments:

www.DiatribesAndOvations.com said...

Unbelievable.

viktor kerney said...

they need to get it together

anne marie in philly said...

wonder what the sheriff is looking for? is he into bears? or leather? or spanking? does he have a wide stance?

whatever they are paying this asshole, it's too much!

the dogs' mother said...

A waste of time and resources and there are real criminals out there.

Biki Honko said...

Ok, so the Sheriff is a fool, that's a given for even beginning this sting operation. What I'd like to know is these men appeared before a Judge wouldnt you THINK that a judge would know the law was invalidated by Lawrence v. Texas?

Why isnt more being said about the judicial system as well?