More Bigotry From Texas Police
July 8th, 2009
Last Sunday night, Carlos Diaz de Leon and some friends stopped to have a bit to eat at Chico’s Tacos. Two of the guys kissed each other, which seemed to annoy the rent-a-cops.
“We went, sat down to eat our food and security guards came and said that if they kept doing that, they were going to throw us all out of the restaurant.”
Carlos said he then asked them why? Their response, according to Carlos: “They said ‘we didn’t allow that gay stuff to go on here.’ “
Carlos mistakenly thought that he and his friends have the right in Texas to be treated the same as straight people. So he called the police. But he didn’t get the response he expected. Rather than come to the support of Carlos and his friends, they were threatened with citation.
“Told us it was against the law for two males and two females to kiss in public, that they could cite us for homosexual activity.”
While there is a homosexual conduct ordinance in the state’s penal code, “We don’t enforce that law, there’s been court decisions about Texas’ law on that. We don’t enforce it and what happened there wouldn’t have even have met the elements of the offense, even if it had been enforceable,” said El Paso Police Department spokesman Chris Mears.
The police department admits the situation was not handled properly by a rookie police officer, but deny it was discrimination.
“Did he make a comment that he shouldn’t have made? Yeah, he did…but that comment I don’t think was discriminatory in nature, I think it was poor understanding of the law,” Mears said.
No, Mr. Mears, it isn’t just “poor understanding of the law.” If was official police harassment of a citizen of El Paso based on that citizen’s sexual orientation. It was discrimination. It was intimidation. It was bigotry.
In 2003 the Supreme Court of the United States told a state that its sodomy laws contrary to the US Constitution. And what state was that? It was Texas. It is simply not credible that there is a police force in the State of Texas that was not fully aware of Lawrence v. Texas and what it means.
Prior to the Court’s decision, it wasn’t as though the state was much in the habit of enforcing the law. They didn’t put folks in jail. That wasn’t its purpose.
The intent of the sodomy laws in Texas were to create a culture of intimidation, to leave gay persons under threat of being criminalized, to allow harassment without recourse, and to make it very clear that the State of Texas “didn’t allow that gay stuff to go on here.”
It seems to me like things haven’t changed much.
In light of the recent police brutality in a gay bar in Ft. Worth, it’s time to ask some questions.
- Why don’t the police in Texas know that they don’t have enforceable sodomy laws?
- Why does Texas still have sodomy laws on the books after they have been told by the Supreme Court that such laws are discriminatory and unconstitutional?
- Why doesn’t El Paso’s Police Department consider the blatantly bigoted response of the officer to be discrimination?
- Why would officers with the Texas Alcohol Beverage Control and with the Ft. Worth Police Department think it was “restrained” to bust heads, break ribs and thumbs, and harass 20 people selected arbitrarily and not associated with any obvious intoxication just because they were patrons of a gay bar?
- And why is it still perfectly legal for Chico’s Tacos in El Paso, Texas, to refuse service to Carlos and his friends based solely on their sexual orientation?
I believe the answers to these questions are all the same.