ACLU Vows to Continue Fighting Louisiana Sodomy Law in Wake of State Supreme Court
Decision Upholding It
American Civil Liberties Union
For Immediate Release: Friday, July 7, 2000
Contact: Eric Ferrero, ACLU (212-549-2568)
Baton Rouge, LA As the Louisiana Supreme Court today announced its 5-2 decision
upholding the states sodomy statute, the American Civil Liberties Unions
Lesbian and Gay Rights Project said it will continue the fight against that law and sodomy
laws in 17 other states and Puerto Rico.
In the Louisiana decision, Justice Chet Traylor wrote for the majority, "Simply
put, commission of what the Legislature determines as an immoral act, even if consensual
and private, is an injury against society itself." The courts dissenting
opinion noted that the states sodomy law punishes private, consensual intimacy.
The ACLU had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case. Recently, several state
court decisions have found Louisianas sodomy law unconstitutional.
"This decision is obviously disappointing, but we have never looked at eliminating
sodomy laws as short-term work," said Michael Adams, Associate Director of the ACLU
Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "The struggle against these unconstitutional laws has
gone on for decades, and we are committed to continue the fight until every single state
is free of such statutes."
Adams said that in the next few days, the ACLU will study the Louisiana Supreme
Courts decision and consult with local attorneys on future strategy.
Under Louisianas sodomy law, consenting adults gay or straight can
be punished for up to five years for engaging in private, non-commercial oral or anal sex.
Puerto Rico and 18 states currently have sodomy laws on the books. In five of those
states, the laws apply only to gay men and lesbians. But Adams said even laws that also
apply to straight people are often selectively enforced to discriminate against lesbians
and gay men.
"Many people have this idea that sodomy laws are just really old legal codes that
exist in name only. In fact, we regularly work with people who have been arrested or
threatened with arrest, as well as people who have lost their jobs and their children
because they are committing felonies in states with sodomy laws," Adams said.
The ACLUs challenge to Puerto Ricos sodomy law is pending before a Court of
Appeals there. Last month, the ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit challenging
Minnesotas sodomy statute.
Complete background and information on sodomy laws is available at the ACLUs web
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