Appellate Court Hears About La. “Crimes Against Nature” Law
Shreveport Times, April 1, 2005
By Adam Nossiter, The Associated Press
GRETNA—A gay rights lawyer told
an appellate court Thursday that a Louisiana law is discriminatory because it
allows the state to break up advocacy groups like his.
“Anytime an attorney general wants to, he can come
along and haul that organization into court,” John Rawls of the Louisiana
Electorate for Gays and Lesbians told three judges of the 5th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals in this New Orleans suburb. “Freedom of association is one
of the must fundamental rights Americans enjoy.”
The justices made no immediate ruling but said they would
consider Rawls’ argument against that law and his claim against remaining
parts of the so-called “crimes against nature” law forbidding human sex
with animals, solicitation for oral and anal sex, and nonconsensual sex.
In a brief counter-argument and without elaborating,
Terry M. Boudreaux of the Jefferson district attorney’s office said the
latter law is properly still on the books.
“The law is the law,” he said outside the courthouse,
adding that “we never prosecute” cases under the crimes against nature
As for the other law—targeting homosexual
organizations, among others—he said that is a matter for Louisiana’s
Thursday’s court arguments have their origins in a 2003
U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down anti-sodomy laws throughout the
Last year, Judge Robert Murphy of Jefferson Parish
followed the Supreme Court by striking down part of the “crimes against
nature” law that makes it criminal for consenting adults to have oral or
anal sex. He declined to strike down a law making the state attorney
general’s office responsible for prosecuting homosexual groups and those
promoting prostitution and narcotics.
Rawls wants the references to homosexuality struck from
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 under age.
Rawls said he is not arguing that those parts should
remain legal. The problem, he said in a pretrial interview Wednesday, is the
judge did more than just delete sections: He rewrote a section with more than
100 words into one with 15 words.
“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 the entire crimes 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 Louisiana Legislature so far has done
nothing to pass laws to replace Louisiana’s, “it’s the obligation of the
courts to throw the law out,” Rawls argued.
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