Louisiana's Sodomy Law To Be Challenged In Court
Times Picayune, October 25, 1998
3800 Howard Ave., New Orleans, LA 70140
The Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS -- Lawyers for gay men and lesbians who say Louisiana's
sodomy law makes them second-class citizens will argue this week that the law should be
In a civil trial scheduled to begin Monday, they are expected to argue that the law and
its five-year maximum prison term illegally invades homosexuals' privacy and discriminates
But lawyers for the state will contend that Louisiana has the authority to outlaw
immoral conduct and impose penalties for engaging in it. Attorneys for the state Attorney
General's Office will argue that Western civilization has long frowned on sodomy and that
Louisiana must protect the moral integrity of children.
The law, which is almost 200 years old, makes oral or anal sex a criminal act, even
between consenting adults. Louisiana is one of only 13 states that such sex a crime
between couples. Six other states outlaw the conduct between same-sex partners only.
Enforcement of the law was barred in every Louisiana parish except Jefferson Parish
since the Louisiana Electorate of Gays and Lesbians Inc. received an injunction in Orleans
Parish in 1994.
But State District Judge Robert Murphy extended the ban to Jefferson Parish in a ruling
issued last Friday.
Expected to testify against the law is a neurobiologist who says sexual orientation is
something people are probably born with. Gay men and lesbians will also share stories of
fear and discrimination. A tourism official will testify that New Orleans could lose
millions of dollars if the law isn't repealed.
The government's lineup includes the leader of a group that says it helps gay men and
lesbians become heterosexual, and an expert who says people choose to be gay.
State lawyers declined comment on the case, but said in court papers that Louisiana
should protect children from abuse and associations that can "have a strong influence
on shaping further sexual attraction and activity."
A lawyer for the gay men and lesbians said they suffer from discrimination even though
the law is not enforced.
"The bottom line is that the crime against nature law is Louisiana's official
condemnation of its lesbian and gay citizens," said John Rawls, the lawyer who filed
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