Louisiana High Court Upholds Sodomy Law
July 7, 2000
BATON ROUGEDefying the national trend overturning laws that
criminalize private consensual sex between adults, the Louisiana Supreme Court has upheld
the states "crime against nature" statute that carries penalties of up to
five years in prison.
Writing for the 5-2 majority, Judge Chet Traylor wrote, "Simply put, commission of
what the Legislature determines as an immoral act, even if consensual and private, is an
injury against society itself." The decision was issued late Thursday.
The court relied on the 1986 United States Supreme Court ruling in Bowers v. Hardwick,
upholding Georgias sodomy law. But, that decision has been widely criticized and
even rejected by Georgias own top court, which overturned the state sodomy law in
A Texas appeals court last month found that the Texas sodomy law violated the
states constitution in a case brought by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education
Fund; the organization continues a legal challenge to the Arkansas sodomy law, having
already helped overturn similar laws in Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
"This decision represents a serious abdication of the courts responsibility
to impose constitutional standards, and its reasoning is intellectually dishonest,"
said Lambda attorney Stephen Scarborough.
Scarborough, who helped defeat the Georgia law as an unconstitutional privacy invasion,
noted that such laws often are used to discriminate against lesbians and gay men in
employment, housing, and child custody.
The Louisiana ruling concludes four separate cases involving the 195-year the same or
different sex. Lambda filed an amicus brief in one of those cases, Smith v. State, on
behalf of religious groups and clergy opposed to criminalizing such acts in the name of
"The Court declined to second guess the legislatures determination of what
is constitutional," said Lambda Legal Director Beatrice Dohrn. "While that logic
defies the American principle of having checks and balances, it also obligates the
citizens of Louisiana to make sure that their representatives move to end this gross
invasion of their privacy."
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