Senate Committee Votes to Repeal Louisiana Sodomy Law
Courts in other states have already jettisoned laws
over last 20 years
Times, May 28, 2003
The Associated Press
19th-century anti-sodomy law, the subject of past unsuccessful court and
legislative challenges, was struck down in a Senate committee Tuesday.
Tuesday’s bill, by Sen. Lynn Dean, R-Braithwaite, makes
legal private, consensual sex that is otherwise illegal—what the current law
calls a “crime against nature.”
Two years ago, a similar bill was defeated in the House
of Representatives after making it through committee. Last fall a state
appeals court upheld the 197-year-old law.
Tuesday’s bill survived critical testimony from
conservative activists, and may even have been helped by it. Senator Paulette
Irons, D-New Orleans, was attacked by one of the witnesses, Pat Harris of New
Orleans, for supporting a “gay rights platform.”
Harris refused to identify herself further after the
Her observation provoked a furious rebuttal from Irons,
and the announcement from Sen. Greg Tarver, D-Shreveport, that he would vote
for the bill because a fellow senator had been attacked.
“During my duration here in the legislature, I’ve
always voted against these laws,” Tarver said. “You attacked a legislator,
and I’m going to vote to move this out of committee,” Tarver said.
Opponents argued as they have in the past, including the
suggestion that Dean’s bill was antifamily, was a threat to public health
and could harm children.
Dean spoke briefly in favor of his bill, provoking
giggles when he said: “We all do things, I’m sure, when we are behind
Courts in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kentucky,
Tennessee, Montana, Maryland and Georgia have all jettisoned anti-sodomy laws
over the last 20 years.
Dean’s bill passed 3-1 Tuesday.
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