Lawsuit: Mississippi’s sodomy law outdated, unconstitutional

A federal lawsuit has been filed to declare Mississippi’s sodomy law unconstitutional.

The lawsuit, filed by five people with the alias Arthur Doe, Brenda Doe, Carol Doe, Diana Doe and Elizabeth Doe, says in 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the right to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct, historically known as sodomy, is constitutionally protected under the 14th Amendment.

“Despite this clear proclamation made more than a decade ago, Mississippi continues to enforce its criminal statute prohibiting sodomy, titled unnatural intercourse,…by requiring people convicted of unnatural intercourse to register as sex offenders and follow myriad, onerous prescriptions on their everyday life pursuant to Mississippi’s sex offender registry law,” according to the lawsuit filed last month in U.S. District Court in Jackson.

The unnatural sex law says: “Every person who shall be convicted of the detestable and abominable crime against nature committed with mankind or with a beast, shall be punished by imprisonment in the penitentiary for a term of not more than ten years.”

The lawsuit seeks to prevent enforcement of the law. It seeks an injunction compelling the state to remove the plaintiffs from the sex offender registry, expunge all records signaling their past inclusion, and/or enjoining the state from administering and enforcing the registry law. In addition, the plaintiffs seeks attorney fees and costs

"Registration as a sex offender burdens almost every aspect of daily life. Plaintiffs – all of whom are required to register only for convictions under Mississippi’s Unnatural Intercourse Statute or an out-of-state conviction Mississippi deems analogous – suffer significant restrictions on their public and personal lives through Mississippi’s plainly unconstitutional conduct. Plaintiffs move for summary judgment and injunctive relief to stop Mississippi from enforcing its unconstitutional sodomy prohibition and to remove the Unnatural Intercourse statute or any purportedly analogous out-of-state law as offenses subject to the MSOR."

The lawsuit names Attorney General Jim Hood as one of the defendants.

"Our office will defend the constitutionality of our sex offender registry. The individual plaintiff cases will be fact specific, requiring a lengthy analysis of each case. The registry is a vital safety tool for Mississippi families,” Hood said Wednesday in a statement.

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