The Baton Rouge Advocate revealed this weekend that Sid J. Gautreaux, III, the Sheriff of East Baton Rouge Parish, has been sending deputies into public parks to spark up conversations with cruising gay men, suggest they go somewhere to have sex, and then arrest them under "crime against nature" laws. This has happened at least a dozen times since 2011.
"There had been no sex-for-money deal between the two. The men did not agree to have sex in the park, a public place. And the count against the man was based on a part of Louisiana’s anti-sodomy law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court a decade ago.
"The July 18 arrest is among at least a dozen cases since 2011 in which a Sheriff’s Office task force used the unenforceable law to ensnare men who merely discussed or agreed to have consensual sex with an undercover agent, an investigation by The Advocate has found."
While Attorney General Hillar Moore III refuses to prosecute these men — "…From what I’ve seen of these cases, legally, we found no criminal violation,” Moore said. — Gautreaux's office is sticking to its anti-gay ways.
“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,” said spokesperson Casey Rayborn Hicks “Whether the law is valid is something for the courts to determine, but the sheriff will enforce the laws that are enacted.”
Again, the courts — well, THE court, as in the Supreme Court — did decide on such laws, way back in 2003, when it invalidated "crime against nature" laws that are simply covers for discrimination. In a statement released after the story, Sheriff Gautreaux's office claimed he didn't know about that decade-old ruling. "To our knowledge, the Sheriff’s office was never contacted or told that the law was not enforceable or prosecutable," they said Sunday.
Bruce Parker from Equality Louisiana said that by the Sheriff's definition of "inappropriate," then all Baton Rouge bars should be shut down. People meet there to find sex partners, after all. But Hicks balked at that comparison, telling The Advocate, "[A public park] is not the place to initiate or attempt to initiate sexual relations.”
To that, I'd like to note that a local Christian singles group gets together at a local park for a run. Do Christians not using singles events to cruise for potential sex partners? Of course they do. But they are, presumably, straight, so Gautreaux and company's eyebrows remain uncocked. It's only the gays that get he and his force excited, and that excitement not only opens them up to a host of lawsuits, but national ridicule.
But more disturbing, it shows how small-minded people let power go to their heads. Sheriff Gautreaux, a Democrat, is basically the anti-gay version of Arizona's anti-immigrant despot Sheriff Joe Arapaio, a Republican. Irrational hate apparently knows no party lines.