Raleigh police charged two adults with sodomy this weekend.
After a call Saturday about an assault, police charged two West Raleigh men with a "crime against nature" — a Class I felony — for having sex early that morning, Matthew Eisley reports. Each faces up to two years in prison if convicted.
The charge was filed under General Statute 14-177, a century old law most recently revised in 1994. But the U.S. Supreme Court appears to have declared such charges unconstitutional in its landmark Lawrence v. Texas case in 2003.
"The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives," the high court ruled in that case. "The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime."
An attorney for the Raleigh police told officers after the ruling that they could charge people for committing those acts in public, but not in private.
State Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, a Carrboro Democrat, said she has tried for years to get the statute rescinded, but the legislature has not agreed. (Bills in 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2005 were sent to committee. A similar bill in 1993 was reported unfavorably.)
"I press it every year," she said. "It would be politically difficult, but that doesn't matter — it's unconstitutional."