Louisiana Sodomy Law Challenge Gets Under Way
September 6, 2002
Louisianaís nearly 200-year-old ban on oral and anal sex is as
discriminatory against gays as the segregation of public facilities was
against blacks, a lawyer told a trio of appeals court judges Wednesday.
"Itís illegal in Louisiana for me to have sex...and the government
of Louisiana says if I donít like it, I can go somewhere else," said
John D. Rawls, an attorney for the Louisiana Electorate of Gays and Lesbians
Inc. "Iím old enough to remember segregation of blacks and whites in
the South...and back then it was the same thing: If you donít like it, go
somewhere else." Rawls urged the stateís fourth circuit court of
appeals to add Louisiana to the 37 other states that have either disposed of
or never had laws banning consensual oral or anal sex between adults.
The judges on the panel deciding the appeal are Joan Bernard Armstrong,
Charles Jones, and David Gorbaty. Armstrong and Jones are black.
The appeals court got the case after the Louisiana supreme court in late
March ruled that the sodomy ban does not violate anyoneís right to privacy,
one of the grounds on which LEGAL initially filed the civil lawsuit. After
ruling on the privacy matter, the supreme court asked the lower appeals court
to decide whether the law discriminates against gay men and women. The high
court also left open 10 other questions, including whether the law is
arbitrarily enforced against gays and lesbians and whether it constitutes a
state endorsement of religious beliefs against homosexuality.
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