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Surprise! Sodomy Still Punishable In 18 States

You thought that the Supreme Court struck down all sodomy laws in 2003? Think again.

Eighteen states have still not repealed the sodomy, “gross indecency”, and “crimes against nature” statutes on their law books and use these charges to levy heavier penalties on LGBT people, especially young homeless sex workers.

Part of the issue is that in his 2003 decision for Lawrence vs. Texas, the Supreme Court case that allegedly struck down all sodomy laws, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the ruling did not apply to minors, public conduct or prostitution.

That means that undercover cops can still solicit men for unpaid consensual sex and then arrest them for it; that anyone who publicly states that they’d like to have anal sex or a blowjob can be arrested; and that any person charged with a felony sex crime will have trouble getting a job and medical insurance as long as it stays on their record.

These laws also get disproportionately applied to LGBTs. While a straight teen getting head in a car might recieve a “indecent exposure” charge, a lesbian teen could get that as well as a “crimes against nature” or “sodomy” charge which would apply as a felony sex crime.

Queer rights group Equality Matters adds that police still enforce sodomy laws to arrest queers for private consensual acts in their bedrooms. Yes, the charges get overturned in court because of the Supreme Court decision, but in the meanwhile they drag innocent people through a costly and humiliating legal process.

These sodomy laws also perpetuate anti-LGBT animus that inspires some citizens to go out and bash queers vigilante-style—y’know, to protect public decency by killing someone in the streets.

Equality Matters says that repealing these laws “should be just as much of a priority for the LGBT community as is the struggle for marriage equality.” After all, sodomy doesn’t just refer to anal sex. It also refers to oral, meaning that these laws can affect heteros as well.

And when getting head is against the law, we all lose.

 

By:           Daniel Villarreal
On:           Aug 9, 2011
Tagged: ,

  • 27 Comments
    • EdWoody
      EdWoody

      Ah, Meet the Feebles. Haven’t thought of that film in a long time. That was one fucked up film.

      And why have I never seen a drag queen perform that song? It’s perfect, surely. It reminds me of a cabaret song I once heard in an East Village dive bar, titled “Do You Take It in the Ass?”

      Aug 9, 2011 at 9:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • timncguy
      timncguy

      you say:

      “After all, sodomy doesn’t just refer to anal sex—it also refers to oral, meaning that these laws can affect heteros as well. And when getting head is against the law, we all lose.”

      But, you also quote Justice Kennedy as explaining:

      “Part of the issue is that in his 2003 decision for Lawrence vs. Texas, the Supreme Court case that allegedly struck down all sodomy laws, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the ruling did not apply to minors, public conduct nor prostitution.”

      So, based on your own reporting, getting head in these 18 states should not be a problem so long as you aren’t a minor, aren’t having sex in public or aren’t participating in prostitution.

      You aren’t advocating prostitution or having sex in public with minors, are you?

      Aug 9, 2011 at 9:30 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • delurker
      delurker

      “That means that undercover cops can still solicit men for unpaid, consensual sex and then arrest them for it; that a person arrested for sex in their car can have felony charges levied against them…”

      Stupid post, David. You really screwed the pooch on this. First of all, these are PUBLIC sex acts. Lawrence does not cover these. Are you really arguing that public sex should be legal? Second, only gays have public sex? STR8 teens having sex in cars is a rite of passage.

      Aug 9, 2011 at 10:04 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Robert in NYC
      Robert in NYC

      How weird that undercover cops can solicit men for unpaid, consensual sex and then arrest them? What’a that about exactly. So they entrap people for the hell of it? How sick and perverted does it get on the part of the straight police departments in those states? Do they entrap female prostitutes I wonder?

      Aug 9, 2011 at 10:13 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • gregger
      gregger

      @delurker: @timncguy: exactly the problem with this article I had.

      Aug 9, 2011 at 10:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • delurker
      delurker

      “Equality Matters says that repealing these laws “should be just as much of a priority for the LGBT community as is the struggle for marriage equality.””

      Yes, let’s all contact our state legislators and tell them of the latest gay civil rights struggle. Let’s have them introduce the Legalization of Prostitution, Public Sex and Sex with Minors Onmibus Bill of 2011 on behalf of the gay community. That should go over really well.

      Aug 9, 2011 at 10:30 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • timncguy
      timncguy

      @delurker: There is still a point in getting the sodomy laws off the books in the states that still have them and it doesn’t relate to prostitution, public sex or sex with minors. Those are illegal without the sodomy laws and would remain illegal with sodomy laws removed from the books.

      In fact, in some of these states the sodomy laws are still used to arrest gays having consensual sex in their homes. These arrests do not stand up and are always thrown out in court because of the Supreme Court decision. But, the process is used to cause harassment and embarrassment to those who are arrested. These harassing arrests would be stopped if the laws were taken off the books and at the same time prostitution, sex with minors and public sex would remain illegal.

      The problem here is that with this posting Queerty has conflated these two issues that didn’t need to be conflated. It’s Queerty’s flippant tone in the posting talking about blow jobs that is causing more confusion when they could really be addressing a serious issue in a serious manner.

      Aug 9, 2011 at 10:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • the crustybastard
      the crustybastard

      @Robert in NYC:

      Creating a situation where people who are already inclined to commit certain crimes are provided an opportunity to commit such crimes is not entrapment.

      Entrapment is taking a person who is not inclined to commit a certain crime and then creating a situation that effectively forces them into the commission of that crime.

      If you steal cars and sell them for parts, and one day you sell those parts to an undercover cop, that’s not entrapment. If you’re an undercover cop working a chop shop angle and you convince me that the car is yours and I’d be doing you a favor to drive it from here to there, then arrest me when I unwittingly deliver a stolen car to a chop shop, that’s entrapment.

      Aug 9, 2011 at 10:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daniel Villarreal
      Daniel Villarreal

      @timncguy: Personally, I have no problem with legalized prostitution as long as it occurs between consenting adults in private.

      @delurker: First off, my name is Daniel. Second off, no I do not advocate public sex with minors. What I am advocating is equal treatment of homosexuals under the law. Why should LGBTs get saddled with the additional felony charges of crimes against nature just because they’re gay; their straight counterparts would just get the lesser charge of “public indecency” and not have a sex crime scarring their record.

      Getting rid of these laws just makes sense. Why target a consensual sex act when we already have laws against statutory rape and sex in public?

      Aug 9, 2011 at 10:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Robert in NYC
      Robert in NYC

      No. 8, how would a cop know a gay man was going to commit a crime of sexual solicitation? What if I were standing at a urinal minding my own business and nobody was there except an undercover cop who solicits me? If I said yes, let’s go to my place, and once home I touch him then he arrests me, why should that not be construed as entrapment since he was the one who made the first sexual advance, inciting a crime to be committed which probably wouldn’t have happened had he not solicited me in the first place?

      Aug 9, 2011 at 11:04 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daniel Villarreal
      Daniel Villarreal

      @delurker: @timncguy: I have attempted to clarify the issue by adding some elaboration in the article. Thanks for your feedback!

      Aug 9, 2011 at 11:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • timncguy
      timncguy

      @Robert in NYC: Because, if you weren’t inclined, you would have said NO to his suggestion.

      But, in your description, his arrest wouldn’t stand up in court because the sex didn’t take place in public and I’m assuming neither of you is a minor and no money was changing hands.

      Aug 9, 2011 at 11:29 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @delurker: said…

      “id post, David. You really screwed the pooch on this. First of all, these are PUBLIC sex acts. Lawrence does not cover these. Are you really arguing that public sex should be legal? Second, only gays have public sex? STR8 teens having sex in cars is a rite of passage.”
      _____________________

      Siiiiiigh, no, he wasn’t saying that. What he was saying is that YES, public sex is illegal. HOWEVER, in addition to getting charged with public sex gays are ALSO charged with the “Crimes against nature” statute that straight people are NOT charged with.

      Aug 9, 2011 at 11:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • timncguy
      timncguy

      @Daniel Villarreal: Thanks for the update. It explains the issue more clearly now.

      Aug 9, 2011 at 11:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe
      ewe

      This does not surprise me in the least. Gay people are still not allowed to donate blood EVERYWHERE in this country. So much for President Oh Bummer!!!

      Aug 9, 2011 at 11:42 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • christopher di spirito
      christopher di spirito

      Taliban Texas will never repeal their Sodomy laws.

      After all, they consider themselves a “whole other country” and keep reelecting a nitwit governor who wants to secede.

      All the more reason why I can’t understand why Bravo-TV’s gadfly president of programming, Andy Cohen, would agree to the new Most Eligible Dallas program.

      I keep reading in the mainstream media how “America’s fascinated with Texas.” Really? Not me. I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about them.

      Aug 9, 2011 at 11:53 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • the crustybastard
      the crustybastard

      @Robert in NYC:

      Consensual sex in private is not criminal. You couldn’t be charged for any crime under the scenario you describe.

      Aug 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • timncguy
      timncguy

      @the crustybastard: You can be “charged” for private sex in these 18 states. It has happened. You just can’t be convicted. Either the DA won’t pursue it or it will get thrown out of court. Read the “Equality Matters” article that is linked to in the original post.

      Aug 9, 2011 at 12:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jim Hlavac
      Jim Hlavac

      There’s lots of laws still “on the books” that are deemed unenforceable; they are comedy fodder, mostly. Most states never actually “repeal” laws that are struck down; they just go to never never land — but they are no longer “laws” but mere words in an old book. Meanwhile, there’s still a law in Florida that says you can’t serve alcohol to known homosexuals in a public bar. Now that’s a crazy law, still enforceable, but not enforced, for the riots that would ensue should they seek to close down the gay bars.

      Aug 9, 2011 at 12:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • gregger
      gregger

      @ewe: Clarification, men who have had sex with other men since approximately 1979 are not allowed to donate blood. There is no rule that says “gay people.”

      Aug 9, 2011 at 1:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Wintersong
      Wintersong

      @delurker:

      Has everyone on Queerty forgotten what it was like to be a young queer kid? I don’t know about you, but I engage in my share of “exploration” before I was of legal age, and states throughout the U.S. have shown a willingness to prosecute kids for fucking around in one way or another. I sure wouldn’t want to be 15 or 16 and worrying that if his parents found up I was making out with their son, they’d have me charged with felony sodomy!

      It’s the existence of these laws that are also used to justify having different ages of consent for queer sex, or exempting queer kids from “Romeo & Juliet” clauses in consent laws.

      Try thinking outside your own experience for a change.

      Aug 9, 2011 at 2:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • the crustybastard
      the crustybastard

      @timncguy:

      No. There is an almost vanishingly remote possibility you may be ARRESTED for private adult consensual sex by an overzealous cop in those states. However, being CHARGED with a crime requires the prosecuting attorney to go before the grand jury and argue that there is sufficient evidence of the commission of said crime to justify a trial.

      In the article, the North Carolina couple weren’t actually arrested for having consensual private sex. They were arrested subsequent to one party making a complaint of assault to the police. Rather than pursue the violent crime angle, the cops chose to go with the sex offense angle. The prosecutor evidently filed the charges, then dropped same realizing the impossibility of making a conviction. The department issued a clarification of policy from the top and no longer makes such arrests.

      Aug 9, 2011 at 3:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kityglitr
      kityglitr

      Wait a sec… I was attending college in Athens when the Georgia sodomy law was struck down. So I suppose the laws still on the books there used to persecute us are more of the “gross indecency” and “crimes against nature” variety. Wow. That really is horrible. Here I was thinking Georgia’s gays were free to be!

      Aug 9, 2011 at 4:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jcknck
      jcknck

      How is Massachusetts on this??
      Gay marriage but no gay sex, thank you very much.

      Aug 9, 2011 at 8:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jeff4justice
      jeff4justice

      Decriminalize vehicle sex.
      Otherwise how can I make kinky videos like this:

      Jeff & Josh Make Out In The SUV
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qL04qgcfxxU

      Jeff & Josh Get Freaky In Back Of SUV

      Aug 10, 2011 at 12:02 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Emz
      Emz

      @jcknck: Probably a forgotten about statute which the legislature which easily repeal if it’s brought up. And people should just sign petitions/call on their state legislators to repeal these anarchic and unconstitutional statutes. In the meantime, no worries, no way is Massachusetts, one of the most socially liberal & progressive states in the US, going to enforce that outdated statute.

      Aug 10, 2011 at 10:47 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 24 · jcknck wrote, “How is Massachusetts on this?? Gay marriage but no gay sex, thank you very much.”

      Massachusetts has a history of having very silly laws on the books, some dating from the 1700s. They are not enforced, but the legislature can’t seem to be bothered to repeal them.

      http://www.dumblaws.com/laws/united-states/massachusetts has a list. According to that list, Massachusetts still bans Quakers and witches.

      Nov 29, 2011 at 9:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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