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Do Sodomy Laws Still Exist?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Way back in 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not prohibit consensual sex between two adults. This decision invalidated state sodomy laws in the 14 states that still had them on the books. But that doesn't mean those laws went away.

Today in 2015, 12 of those states still have sodomy statutes. And even though these laws may not be fully enforceable, law enforcement continues to use them to harass citizens and state legislatures refuse to remove them.

Same-Sex Sex Is Not Illegal

Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah still have prohibited consensual sexual activity laws that ban sodomy, though the language and the punishments in these laws can vary significantly. For instance, Florida prohibits "any unnatural and lascivious act with another person," which may be applicable to same-sex sexual conduct, while Michigan criminalizes "the abominable and detestable crime against nature either with mankind or with any animal."

As these laws relate to consensual sexual conduct between adult same-sex people, they are unconstitutional. The Supreme Court's ruling in Lawrence v. Texas held that private sexual conduct is protected by the liberty and privacy rights provided by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Tell It to the Judge

But only two states, Montana and Virginia, repealed their sodomy laws following the Court's decision. Other states, like Louisiana, kept their sodomy laws. In fact, in 2014 the Louisiana House of Representatives voted 67-27 to retain it's unconstitutional law and police continue to run same-sex sting operations and arrest and charge citizens for having same-sex sexual intercourse.

The sodomy charges are dropped in every case because states may not enforce unconstitutional laws. But the fact that states continue to have sodomy laws on the books and that police continue to harass and arrest consenting adults for private sexual conduct means that sodomy laws aren't gone yet.

If you've been arrested or charged with violating sodomy laws you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today.

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