Louisiana police chief apologizes for unconstitutional anti-sodomy crackdown

Baton Rouge police chief Carl Dabadie instructs officers to stop enforcing statute against gay sex

Published February 20, 2015 8:43PM (EST)

  (Talia Samelian/YouTube screenshot)
(Talia Samelian/YouTube screenshot)

The police chief of Baton Rouge, Louisiana has apologized for the recent anti-sodomy arrest of two men and instructed officers in his department to cease enforcement of the state's anti-sodomy statute, a dozen years after the U.S. Supreme Court found such laws unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas.

The Baton Rouge Advocate reported that Police Chief Carl Dabadie has issued a memo to all police officers in the city telling them not to arrest people under the state law banning “unnatural carnal copulation by a human being with another of the same sex.” Dabadie's memo comes after an officer patrolling Forest Community Park arrested two men on February 13 for engaging in consensual sex in the back seat of a car.

“The officers made a mistake,” police spokesman Lt. Jonny Dunnam told the paper. “The chief wants to send his apologies to those individuals for making that mistake and has contacted supervisors to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Two years ago, Baton Rouge made national headlines after the sheriff's office conducted an unconstitutional sting cracking down on gay sex, despite the Supreme Court's 2003 ruling that sodomy bans violated the substantive due process clause of the 14th Amendment.

ThinkProgress' Ian Millhiser notes that while the latest arrests were carried out under an unconstitutional state law, the two men could still face charges for engaging in a public sex act; the Court's Lawrence ruling permits such prosecutions.

Last year, the Louisiana House of Representatives voted 67-27 to keep the state's anti-sodomy law on the books.

By Luke Brinker

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