Judge Strikes Down Portions of Louisiana Sodomy Law
Advocate, August 28, 2004
A judge has ruled that portions of Louisiana law
criminalizing consensual oral and anal sex between adults are unconstitutional
and has permanently barred prosecutors in Jefferson Parish from enforcing
them. The Louisiana Electorate for Gays and Lesbians sued the Jefferson Parish
district attorney’s office in 1996, after the office was dismissed from a
case in Orleans Parish that resulted in a statewide ban on enforcement of the
“crimes against nature” law.
That 1996 suit prompted a preliminary injunction from
state district judge Robert Murphy in 1998, temporarily prohibiting Jefferson
Parish prosecutors from pursuing any cases. His ruling this week makes that
permanent, prosecutors said.
Attorney John Rawls, representing LEGAL, said he
considered Murphy’s ruling a loss because the judge granted only part of
what the group was seeking. Rawls said LEGAL wanted two laws stricken but that
the judge struck only a portion of one. An appeal is planned.
Murphy wrote that he based his decision in part on the
June 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Texas case in which two men were
arrested in 1998 for having sex in one of the their homes. In that case, the
high court struck down the nation’s sodomy laws as unconstitutional. Despite
that decision, Louisiana’s “crimes against nature” law, which includes
bans on consensual oral and anal sex, remains on the books.
Rawls, who has called the law discriminatory, said the
legislature could have addressed the statute in its recent session but did
not. But Murphy left intact portions of the state law that ban human sex with
animals, solicitation for oral and anal sex, and aggravated crimes against
nature. Such acts are typically considered aggravated when they are
nonconsensual or when the victim is underage.
Murphy also declined to strike down a statute that
charges the state attorney general’s office with prosecuting organizations
or corporations formed for the purpose of organized homosexuality,
prostitution, narcotics, and other activities spelled out in the law. Rawls
wanted references to homosexuality struck from the laws.
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