At a Glance
On October 10, 2018, Judge Reeves found that "the Mississippi anti-sodomy statute bars any act of sodomy.... [and] cannot be squared with Lawrence." The Court ordered the parties to prepare oral argument regarding Doe's ability to seek state court relief.
Jacob W. Howard, Robert B. McDuff, Matthew Strugar
Arthur, Brenda, Carol, Diana, and Elizabeth Doe are all Mississippi residents who have been charged under Mississippi’s Unnatural Intercourse statute or Louisiana’s Crime Against Nature by Solicitation statute, and as a result are required to register with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety as sex offenders.
In 2003, in the landmark decision Lawrence v. Texas, the United States Supreme Court declared that state statutes that criminalize sodomy are unconstitutional. In its sweeping decision, the Supreme Court observed that the mere existence of sodomy laws “is an invitation to subject homosexual persons to discrimination both in the public and the private spheres.”
But more than a decade later, Mississippi still has an “Unnatural Intercourse” statute on the books – and is still enforcing that statute by requiring people with Unnatural Intercourse convictions to register as sex offenders. Doe v. Hood argues that Mississippi’s discriminatory Unnatural Intercourse statute, as well as its sex offender registration requirement, is unconstitutional.
The case reaches beyond Mississippi. In 2013, CCR successfully challenged Louisiana’s requirement that people convicted of Crime Against Nature by Solicitation (CANS) register as sex offenders. That litigation resulted in the removal of over 800 people from Louisiana’s sex offender registry. However, people with CANS convictions in Louisiana who subsequently moved to Mississippi are now being forced to register there as sex offenders all over again, because Mississippi requires people with out-of-state convictions that it deems equivalent to an Unnatural Intercourse conviction to register. Doe v. Hood also challenges the application of Mississippi’s unconstitutional Unnatural Intercourse statute to those with CANS convictions from Louisiana.
The case argues that Mississippi’s ongoing enforcement of its sodomy statute, over a decade after it was struck down by the Supreme Court, violates both due process and equal protection principles.