Louisiana Gays Battles ‘Crimes Against Nature’ Law
March 30, 2005
By The Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA—Gay rights activists say
Louisiana has some unfinished business in the aftermath of the 2003 U.S.
Supreme Court ruling that struck down anti-sodomy laws, and they are taking
their arguments to a state appeal court on Thursday.
Last year, a state district judge in suburban Gretna
followed the Supreme Court’s ruling by striking down part of Louisiana’s
“crimes against nature” law. But John Rawls, an attorney for the Louisiana
Electorate for Gays and Lesbians, said the ruling did not go far enough. True,
Judge Robert Murphy of Jefferson Parish struck down parts of the law making it
criminal for consenting adults to have oral or anal sex with each other.
But he declined to strike down a law making the state
attorney general’s office responsible for prosecuting organizations or
corporations formed for the purpose of organized homosexuality, prostitution,
narcotics and other activities spelled out in the law.
Rawls wants the references to homosexuality struck from
“It means my gay civil rights organization can be
abolished at the whim of the attorney general if he can find a friendly enough
judge,” Rawls said.
Murphy also left intact parts of the crimes against
nature law forbidding human sex with animals, solicitation for oral and anal
sex, and aggravated crimes against nature—aggravated usually meaning
nonconsensual sex or sex involving someone who is underaged.
Rawls said he is not arguing that those parts should
remain legal. The problem, he said, is that the judge did more than just
delete sections: He rewrote a section with more than 100 words into one with
“A judge, with the best of intentions, cannot rewrite a
statute. Even if the result that he winds up with is the best statute in the
world, it is not a statute,” Rawls said.
Rawls said the entire crime against nature law should be
struck down in light of the 2003 Supreme Court case. Since the U.S. Supreme
Court threw out sodomy laws and the Legislature has so far done nothing to
pass new laws to replace Louisiana’s, “it’s the obligation of the courts
to throw the law out,” Rawls argues.
Jefferson Parish prosecutors disagree.
Assistant District Attorney Terry M. Boudreaux wrote in a
nine-paragraph brief that Murphy was correct to leave parts of the law intact.
That interpretation is supported by the fact that,
earlier this year, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the section which makes
solicitation of oral or anal sex a felony even though other types of
prostitution are a misdemeanor.
He said his office would have no comments beyond its
brief and the arguments it will make Thursday.
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