This past Saturday, in violation of a 2003 US Supreme Court ruling, police in Raleigh NC arrested two men on “crimes against nature” charges in what even a police captain described as a “consensual act that may have gotten out of hand.” Today, the DA’s office dropped those charges, but the unconstitutional law remains on the books.I reported on the original arrests in a DKos diary:
Pam also addressed the issue:
Today, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that the charges had been dropped.
After reviewing the case, Assistant District Attorney Adam Moyers said the facts showed all acts occurred between consenting adults in private. He cited the landmark 2003 U.S. Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas that forbids making private sexual conduct a crime.
Sodomy laws remain on the books in North Carolina. “But so is cohabitation,” Moyers said
Despite moves by some legislators to have the sodomy law stricken from the statutes, the efforts haven’t gotten very far in the General Assembly. Many say the leadership doesn’t want to risk riling up the religious right over the issue, especially when the state has been successful in fending off a vote on a Defense of Marriage Act amendment to the state constitution. (NC is the only Southern state to have held off these efforts.)
But the fact that the “crimes against nature” law remains on the books means that it can continue to be used by lazy and/or vindictive police departments to harass gay men. (The NC law applies to heterosexual activity as well, but in practice it has only been used to prosecute men engaged in homosexual activities.)
As one of the victims of the latest miscarriage of justice put it:
“I am grateful that the DA’s office has a better understanding of the Constitution than the Raleigh Police Department. However, as long as this law remains on the books it is a crime punishable by an arrest, a stay in jail, media attention, and a fine of $450 since that is how much it cost me to get out of jail.”
It is high time that the General Assembly does the right thing and removes this antiquated law from the books for good!