Scoot: Anti-sodomy laws are an invasion of our privacy
Politics should be about substance, not symbolism.
As the 2014 Louisiana legislative session continues in Baton Rouge, we are again reminded that state politicians are often motivated by symbolic gestures rather than a true interest in advancing the state of Louisiana into modern times.
Among the ridiculous legislation that has surfaced during the current session, the Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would have removed the state’s unconstitutional anti-sodomy law from the books. With a law that defines sodomy as a crime still on the books - Louisiana embraces the political dark ages.
Baton Rouge-area police had been using the antiquated anti-sodomy law to arrest gay men, but the district attorney refused to charge the men because the law cannot be enforced. So why is it still on the books?
In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Lawrence vs. Texas, that any law banning sodomy is unconstitutional. Sodomy is defined as “unnatural sex.” Without resorting to graphic descriptions, how should “unnatural sex” be defined? A strong argument can be made that sodomy applies to any sex act outside of the basic missionary position, which would be a very prudish definition of intimacy between consenting adults.
It is important to know how the case of Lawrence vs. Texas reached the Supreme Court in the first place. In the Houston area, a neighbor didn’t like the gay couple that lived next door, so he spied on them by looking in their window and caught them having sex. The man called police and claimed he saw a weapon. Police arrived and apparently caught the men engaged in sex or concluded they had sex and they were arrested and charged with the crime of committing sodomy.
The case that put anti-sodomy laws before the U.S. Supreme Court started when a neighbor maliciously and blatantly invaded the privacy of his neighbors and then called in a false weapons charge for the purpose of having them arrested for activity he disapproved of.
The Supreme Court ruled that any laws banning sodomy are unconstitutional based on right to privacy. The reason the sodomy case went to the Supreme Court reveals the desire to control the behavior of others that an individual or a group deems inappropriate. But since sodomy also defines physical acts between consenting heterosexual couples, why is it only applied to homosexuals? The most accepted definitions of sodomy do not restrict “unnatural sex” to homosexuals.
The definition of sodomy is not orientation specific – it applies to both homosexuals and heterosexuals – unless the motivation is to support an anti-gay agenda.
The House vote to reject a bill that would take the logical and constitutional step of removing the anti-sodomy law from the books tells us a lot about the mentality of some of our legislators who are acting on behalf of the voters that put them in office.
The mentality of those who continue to look for reasons to judge others by their specific moral beliefs shows that many citizens in this state have not evolved from the political Neanderthals that once roamed this area. As the battle against banning same-sex marriage appears to be over – there is now an effort to use religious beliefs or anti-sodomy laws to resurrect the moral battle against homosexuality.
The Constitution and the basic understanding of freedom in America guarantee equality for all – not just those most like us. There was a time when blacks were discriminated against and the justification was based on a sense of superiority. Today, discrimination against homosexuals is also based on a sense of superiority that is achieved through the condemnation of the “homosexual sins.” Our sins and the sins of our family and friends and people we most identify with are accepted as “falling short” and those sinners accepted. But those who desperately cling to the notion that homosexuality is an abomination fail to see their own hypocrisy.
Louisiana has wonderful traditions and a rich and colorful culture and everyone should encourage the perservation of our traditions and our culture. But no one in Louisiana – citizens or politicians – should be allowed to support the tradition of discrimination even though it was part of our history.
Refusing to remove an unconstitutional law from the books represents a political ignorance in our state. The more we denounce the judgment and hate that justifies discrimination of any kind – the more likely we are to shame those who continue to support discrimination.
It is true that some people will never change – but it is also important for those of us who believe in equality to speak louder than the voices of those who continue to support the attitudes of the dark ages.
If the anti-sodomy law is unconstitutional – therefore meaningless – keeping it on the books in our state only satisfies the small-minded citizens of this state who fear change. It does not change behavior.