Out of the Closet

Law enforcement in Baton Rouge have reportedly been using an invalid, unconstitutional law to target and arrest adult gay men, according to a new report.

The Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office sting was revealed on Saturday by the Baton Rouge Advocate, which investigated the arrests of at least a dozen Louisiana gay men since 2011 who agreed to consensual gay sex with undercover officers. In all of the cases, the men were arrested under the state's anti-sodomy law, which was struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas.

Technically invalid yet still on the books, the state's "Crime Against Nature" law prohibits “unnatural carnal copulation by a human being with another of the same-sex or opposite-sex or with an animal” along with “solicitation by a human being of another with the intent to engage in any unnatural carnal copulation for compensation,” according to Louisiana legislature.

“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,” Casey Rayborn Hicks, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, told the Baton Rouge Advocate. “Whether the law is valid is something for the courts to determine, but the sheriff will enforce the laws that are enacted.”

However, the Advocate also revealed that none of these cases had been prosecuted by District Attorney Hillar Moore III, whose office could find no evidence of any crime being committed by any of the arrested men.

While Hicks argued that the fact that the men agreed to sex in a public park made their actions illegal, Equality Louisiana’s Bruce Parker told MSNBC.com that this claim carried little legitimacy as no sex ever actually happened in the park and most of the men intended to have sex at a private residence.

“They started a conversation and the officer invited him back," Parker said. "That’s a conversation that could happen anywhere. It’s the equivalent of me asking you out in a Post Office.”


As bizarre as all this may seem…

What does the POPE say?

And…  why would this be important?

Because, Catholics represents 18% of the global population…

The Pope did not change any official Catholic position when he recently stated that gays should not be marginalized or judged. But the effects of his words could be transformational in parts of the world where homophobia is institutionalized.

Change in the Vatican has always moved at glacial pace. But when it does happen, it often starts in small ways in local parishes. “A shift like this could affect everything from the kinds of homilies preached at Sunday Mass, to how much leadership bishops take on anti-LGBT equality measures, to whether bishops speak out when laws making homosexuality a capital crime are being considered,” explains Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of LGBT Catholic organization DignityUSA. And, she continues, the pope’s example matters greatly for gay Catholics, especially those in the least accepting environments.

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with 1.2 billion members. The Catholic hierarchy is led by the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope, and includes cardinals and bishops. The Church teaches that it is the one true church divinely founded by Jesus Christ.  It also teaches that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles,  and the Bishop of Rome, as the successor of Saint Peter, has supreme authority over the Church. The Church maintains that the doctrine on faith and morals that it presents as definitive is infallible. There are a variety of doctrinal and theological emphases, including the Eastern Catholic Churches, the personal ordinariates and religious communities.

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