At least a dozen men in the last two years have been arrested by the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office using the “crimes against nature” law. This law was declared unconstitutional in 2003 by the U.S. Supreme Court and declared unenforceable by the Louisiana Attorney General shortly after the Supreme Court’s decision. The EBR Sheriff’s Office has been harming a specific group of people under a law that was ruled unconstitutional 10 years ago.
When public outcry began, the EBR Sheriff claimed to have been ignorant of this decision. In an email to the Sheriff’s Office, Metro Councilman John Delgado chastises Sheriff Sid Gautreaux and declares, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Doesn’t your office tell people that all the time?”
After receiving a large number of emails and other communications organized by Capital City Alliance (CCA) and EQLA, the Baton Rouge LGBT organization, the Sheriff’s Office released a number of statements committing to work with CCA to ensure that these kinds of practices are discontinued. One of the statements from Sheriff Gautreaux included the following steps moving forward:
1. I have met with the EBR District Attorney to improve communication between our offices and evaluate ways to ensure that arrests are not made based on unenforceable and unconstitutional laws.
2. I have contacted the DA, Louisiana Legislators and the La. Sheriff’s Association to begin discussions about having the unconstitutional sections of La. R.S. 14:89, Crimes Against Nature, removed from the Louisiana Criminal Code.
3. I have publicly stated that the Sheriff’s Office will not use this unconstitutional section of the law in future cases.
4. I have informed all employees of the Sheriff’s Office they are not to use this unconstitutional law.
5. I am conducting a comprehensive evaluation of undercover operations made by our deputies and will make changes to ensure better supervision, training and guidance.
6. I have scheduled to meet the Capital City Alliance group in order to further the dialogue between law enforcement and the LGBT community and discuss ways to keep an ongoing dialogue.
EQLA is happy that the EBR Sheriff’s Office has agreed to meet with CCA and has assured them that no one else would be arrested using this statute.
As CCA moves East Baton Rouge forward with the support of EQLA, we want to call upon the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association to actively support the removal of the “crimes against nature” law from the books. We also hope Sheriffs across the state will follow the lead of Sheriff Gautreaux, who is the Sargeant at Arms of the Sheriff’s Association, in his promise not to enforce the law any longer.