Sadly, Gay Anti-Discrimination Laws Are Needed in Louisiana
Times, May 20, 2001
Box 30222, Shreveport, LA 71130
By John Hill
When you watch the Louisiana Legislature, its sometimes difficult to
believe we are living in the 21st century.
Such is the case over two bills, one involving sex practices between
consenting adults that affects us all and the other would prohibit employers
from discriminating against gays and lesbians simply because of their sexual
First, the sex practices law that makes felons out of most adults. House
Bill 2036, by Rep. Cedric Richmond, would have altered "crime against
nature law" by inserting one sentence: "Sexual acts committed by and
between consenting adults in private shall not be deemed as a crime against
The key words are "consenting adults" and "in private."
It may astonish many heterosexual couples, but if you have ever engaged in
oral sex, you are guilty of a "crime against nature" and are subject
to being convicted as a felon and face five years in prison.
"This bill is a privacy bill," Richmond, a New Orleans Democrat,
said. "It says, Big Brother, we dont want you in our bedroom.
The government shouldnt be in our bedrooms. The most conservative among
us should believe that. Still, the bill failed Thursday by a 47-42 House vote,
but it can still be reconsidered.
The other bill is one that is hard to believe but a necessary reality, even
It is Senate Bill 862, by Sen. Don Cravins, D-Lafayette, and Sen. Paulette
Irons, D-New Orleans, which would provide job protection for gays and
lesbians. It says employers of more than 25 people could not discriminate
against an employee simply because of his or her sexual orientation. In other
words, if a gay is "outed," he cannot be fired just because of that
alone; it doesnt mean a gay person cannot be fired for cause.
I have received more e-mail since the bill passed the Senate Labor and
Industry Committee 10 days ago.
First, there was the very moving statement by state Sen. Ken Hollis,
R-Metairie, who disclosed his son is gay. His son came out to him 10 years
ago, and Hollis recalled having hugged him and told him he loved him.
"And I still love him," Hollis said. "Hes my son and Im
proud of him."
Shortly after his son told Hollis, two of his sons friends told their
own parents, encouraged by Hollis loving reaction. "One of them got
beat up by his dad. The other one got thrown out of his house," Hollis
told a very hushed committee room.
Choking back tears, Hollis recalled the time his son called to say he
feared losing his job at a Louisiana university because his employers had
discovered he was gay. Hollis said his son also told him stories about being
afraid of violence against him and his gay friends.
Earlier, Sen. Lynn Dean, R-Braithwaite, had told a Senate committee of
personal knowledge of a number of gays who committed suicide. Gays and
lesbians are born that way, he said, adding it is not a matter of choice. Dean
said he had personal knowledge of several gays who had committed suicide.
My own brother, Mark, who died of larynx cancer eight years ago, was gay.
He once told me he hated the designation "sexual preference" because
that indicated a choice was involved. "Do you think I would choose to be
something society abhors?" he said, forever making the point "sexual
orientation" was the more accurate term.
Louisiana has many gays who are lawyers, doctors, CPAs, journalists,
professionals who are walking among you, unknown because they are perfectly
normal people who are Gods creatures, too.
I know the fundamentalists and religious right will be unhappy with this
column; so be it. I am a Christian, too, a regular attendee of First Methodist
Church of Baton Rouge. Our religion teaches tolerance and an obligation to
help our fellow man, who are all equal in the eyes of God. Christian charity,
in other words. I believe in it.
The need for this or any other anti-discrimination law should not even
exist in 2001. Unfortunately, it does.
- John Hill is chief of The Times Baton Rouge bureau. His column appears
Sundays. He can be reached by calling (225) 342-7333. Email him at TalktoJHill@aol.com.
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