Tuesday, August 06, 2013

You Can Still Be Arrested for Being Gay in Red-State America

Following up on the last post, it is necessary to note that because of the deliberate twisting of Gospel passages and the spinelessness of politicians who prostitute themselves to the Christofascists, gays in red state America need to be concerned that they can still be arrested for being gay.  Leading the charge is Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate  Ken Cuccinelli who wants to reinstate Virginia's sodomy statute.  Cuccinelli is blowing a smoke screen as to his real agenda, but past police stings in Virginia Beach and elsewhere in the Commonwealth make it clear that gays remain the special target of this statute which as currently written makes certain kinds of sex acts always a felony.  An article in Slate makes it clear that Virginia is not the only state where gays are targeted.  Here are article excerpts:

Last week, the Advocate reported some troubling news out of Louisiana: Since 2011, at least a dozen men have been arrested on a count of “attempted crimes against nature”—that is, an offer to have sex with another man. Even worse, the arrests were part of a sting operation in which undercover officers propositioned men, lured them into an apartment, then promptly arrested them and brought them to jail. The latest arrest occurred on July 18.

Sound retro? It is and it isn’t. On the one hand, Louisiana’s actions are patently, almost comically unconstitutional. It’s been a decade since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that “the liberty protected by the Constitution allows homosexual persons the right ... [of] intimate conduct with another person.” That 6–3 ruling struck down every anti-sodomy law in the country, legalizing homosexuality—as well as any kind of sexual contact between consenting adults, gay or straight.

On the other hand, rejecting Lawrence has long been in vogue in red states. Ten years after Lawrence, 13 states, all of them red or red-leaning, have kept their anti-sodomy laws on the books. And three of them—Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas—explicitly outlaw consenting sex between people of the same sex. In much of red-state America, then, being gay remains officially illegal.

Yet these laws aren’t merely symbolic. Same-sex couples in North Carolina and Texas have been arrested for “homosexuality conduct” in recent years. And as the Louisiana debacle illustrates, overzealous law enforcement officers feel enabled by the law to arrest, prosecute, and generally humiliate gay people simply for being gay.

The continuing presence of anti-sodomy laws can’t be blamed on absentminded legislators, either. Equality advocates have mounted significant efforts in all 13 states to repeal these laws in the wake of Lawrence—efforts that failed in the face of conservative resistance. In Virginia, the endeavor actually backfired: An attempt to revoke the state’s “crimes against nature” statute led the legislature to reaffirm the anti-sodomy law—more than a year after Lawrence.

Virginia’s law has returned to the spotlight in recent months as Ken Cuccinelli, the state’s current attorney general, has centered his gubernatorial campaign on an effort to enforce Virginia’s Crimes Against Nature law. Cuccinelli was integral to the defeat of the 2004 repeal bill, and nearly a decade later, he remains strangely fixated on an issue settled long ago by the highest court in the land.

There’s no easy legal remedy for these holdout states. . . . . reactionary politicians and homophobic police chiefs will almost certainly continue to use these laws to intimidate and denigrate gay citizens. A decade after the Supreme Court found that matters of sexual intimacy are “central to the personal dignity and autonomy” guaranteed by the Constitution, too much of red-state America still formally outlaws homosexuality. 
Regular readers know why I believe Cuccinelli remains "strangely fixated" on sodomy.  He's another Ed Schrock.   He's out to persecute gays to hide his own closeted status.

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