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Lost Enforcement: Gay Couple Told Kissing "Illegal" in Texas

lost enforcement = when law enforcement, politicians or bureaucrats, when unsure of what the law is, choose to err on the side of arrest, threatening to arrest, confiscation of property or otherwise improperly infringing on individual liberties, often under the guise of “act now and let the courts figure it out later”

From the state that was the subject of the Lawrence decision:

A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper has been placed on probation for telling two gay men who were kissing at the state Capitol that “homosexual conduct” was illegal in Texas.

Trooper Michael Carlson was placed on job probation for six months and given a written reprimand, DPS spokeswoman Tela Mange said Friday. Carlson, who has been a DPS trooper for three years, also has been ordered to have more training on Texas laws.

Texas law does not prohibit gays from kissing. Also, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state’s anti-sodomy law in June 2003.

The Texas authorities may have acted responsibly after the fact (Christian Grantham thinks not), but what about before the fact? Both of my “real-word” professions — the law and investment banking — require formal “Continuing Education” programs to deal with changes and developments in the profession. Is it too much to ask that similar programs apply to law enforcement?

One of the gay men was a University of Texas graduate student. What if he had been a University of Texas Law School student? While you’re in law school, you are (or should be) afraid of even the slightest ding on your criminal (non-)record. Even the slightest offense, if not enough to keep you from being admitted to the bar, can at least require disclosures, explanations, documentation, hearings, etc. How many people have so much to lose from even the slightest trip-up with the law that, should a jackhole constable decide to, intentionally or negligently, harass some uppity gays (or blacks or Hispanics or minors or women or whomever), they decide that “it’s just not worth it”?

Not everyone can be an activist; civil disobedience can be expensive. I’m glad these two brave young men were willing to pick up the check.

The “Lost Enforcement” Archives:
“Lost Enforcement”: Dallas Cowboy Gear Banned from Polls
“Lost Enforcement”: Preventing Students from Voting
“Lost Enforcement”: Arrested for a Bookmark
“Lost Enforcement”: Memory-Hole Tactic Acknowledged as Illegal
“Lost Enforcement”: Couple Arrested for Anti-Bush Shirts Proceed with Lawsuit
Tipping and the Bill of Rights
Another “The Law Be Damned” Moment
Painting Over the Canvass(ers)
“I Left the Law…in San Francisco…”

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