Louisiana a Backwater State in Relation to Sex Issue
Advocate, June 7, 2001
525 Lafayette St., Baton Rouge, LA 70821
By Lanny Keller, Advocate staff writer
The governor has signed into law a package of bills he has long sought to
reorganize the state Department of Economic Development. The Legislature might
well have already undone whatever good the new and improved DED is supposed to
accomplish, by provoking hoots from late-night comedian Jay Leno.
Leno ridiculed the failure of the Legislature to repeal Louisianas
sodomy law, which forbids oral and anal sex.
Once the DED gets around to hiring its proposed hot-shot marketing teamat six-figures a year, apiecethe new hires might want to tell their
bosses about the hot concept in business: branding.
Your commercial prospects are determined by the value of your brand name.
Branding by Leno as a benighted backwater of the sexual revolution is just
one of the ways that Louisiana has been ill-served by the 2001 Legislature.
Sex sells, or at least attracts attention, and the debates about sexual
laws and practice this session havent done the state a lot of good in the
To be sure, the Senate managed a responsible debate about a bill to ban job
discrimination against homosexuals. The vote was 14-21 against the bill,
killing it for the session. The debate was emotional but not heated, as
members focused on the issues involved.
The Louisiana Lesbian and Gay Political Action Caucus called the session a
generally constructive one, as anti-gay initiatives were shelved and the
Senate debate marked an advance in educating legislators about gay issues.
However, far beyond gay and lesbian concerns is the astonishing
unwillingness of the House to repeal a sodomy law that is almost two centuries
Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, proposed exempting consensual sex from
Louisianas "crime against nature" statute. Todays law
criminalizes sexual behavior between consenting adults, married or single, gay
or straight, in their own bedrooms.
The ban on oral and anal sex in the "crime against nature"
statute is admittedly rarely enforced. If it were widely enforced, vast
numbers of citizens could suffer penalties of up to five years in prison.
Sexual mores in this country have changed, sometimes for the worse, but the
idea of state intrusion into bedrooms is an anachronism.
Selective enforcement of the law is a real danger. A 1982 Georgia case went
to the U.S. Supreme Court after police arrested two men in their bedroom. In a
5-4 decision, the high court in 1987 upheld the arrest.
The Louisiana Supreme Court has failed to follow the lead of a number of
other state courts in the United States, which have struck down such laws as
invasions of personal privacy. With the explicit statement of the right to
privacy enshrined in the state constitution, the courts reluctance to act
Richmonds bill is preferable to a court decision. If passedit
failed to pass on its first tryit would be a statement through the
political process that privacy in these intimate areas should be respected.
Nor is opposition to the sodomy law always coming from political liberals.
The chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee, Rep. Danny Martiny, R-Kenner,
urged his colleagues to show a little courage.
Arizona, a conservative Republican state, repealed its sodomy statute last
month. Gov. Jane Hull (R) signed the bill. "Keeping archaic laws on the
books does not promote high moral standards; instead it teaches the lesson
that laws are made to be broken," she said.
It also keeps you in the line of fire from Jay Lenos writers. We could
spend $100 million a year on the Department of Economic Development, and not
match the free publicity we get every spring from the state Legislature.
Lanny Keller is an editorial writer for The Advocate. His email
address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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