More than 10 years after anti-sodomy laws were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, the police chief in Baton Rouge, La., finally issued a memo to all officers Friday telling them to stop enforcing the obsolete and unconstitutional law that prompted the recent arrests of two Louisiana men who were caught having sex.
Police Chief Carl Dabadie issued the "department-wide memo to remind officers not to arrest people using that statute," police department spokesman Lt. Johnny Dunnam told local Baton Rouge newspaper The Advocate.
Two men were arrested in the early hours of February 12, after a Baton Rouge police officer patrolling Forest Community Park came across the pair, who were 25 and 33 years old, having sex in the back seat of a car, The Advocate reports.
This isn’t the first time the Baton Rouge police department found itself in hot water for enforcing the unconstitutional statute. This month's incident comes on the heels of a series of controversial arrests made in 2013 under the same defunct law, which bans sodomy and other “crimes against nature." Just last year, Louisiana lawmakers killed a bill that would have formally removed the unconstitutional law, which unjustly targets same-sex couples having consensual sex.
After a series of police sting operations targeting gay men in 2013 garnered headlines nationwide, the East Baton Rouge sheriff claimed he didn’t know Louisiana's anti-sodomy law was invalidated by the Supreme Court in its landmark 2003 decision Lawrence v. Texas.
"To our knowledge, the Sheriff’s office was never contacted or told that the law was not enforceable or prosecutable," a statement from the Sheriff's office claimed at the time.
After weathering public outcry following the 2013 arrests, the Baton Rouge police department is taking a different approach in this latest pair of unconstitutional arrests. The department announced it is planning to drop the sodomy charges against the men, though officers may still pursue trespassing charges in the case, The Advocate reports.
"The officers made a mistake," Dunnam told the local 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."