Doe v. Kelley (State Police)
As a result of the settlement of a GLAD case against the Massachusetts State Police, a General Order was issued that “officers should not order someone to leave a public area in the absence of unlawful conduct.” This Order clarifies the law on police-public interaction and sexual activity in public places, and reaffirms that individuals have the right to use public facilities without interference regardless of their sexual orientation.
GLAD filed a complaint against the Massachusetts State Police for preventing our client, a gay man, from using public rest areas. Our client, known in court papers as “John Doe,” alleged that a particular State Trooper, with support from his superiors, harassed him based on a stereotyped view that Doe, because he is a gay man, was likely to engage in public sexual behavior. In this matter, GLAD argued that our client, like every other citizen, has the right to use public facilities whenever he wants to, without state interference regardless of his sexual orientation.
We filed our complaint in state court requesting only that the State Police comply with the law, i.e., that they not roust our client from public areas. After a preliminary injunction hearing, the judge ruled in our favor, issuing an order against the State Police prohibiting the police from continuing to harass our client. A settlement of this court action was announced by GLAD and the Massachusetts State Police in March, 2001. A key feature of the settlement involved the issuance of a General Order from the then head of the State Police, Colonel John DiFava, to all uniformed members of the department clarifying the law on police-public interaction and sexual activity in public places. Among other things, the General Order provides, “Officers should not order someone to leave a public area in the absence of unlawful conduct.” Although the State Police admitted no wrongdoing, they trained all new recruits on the issues in the General Order, and are ensuring that in-service training for existing officers also addresses the issues.