Last edited: February 14, 2005


Louisiana's Sodomy Law To Be Challenged In Court

Times Picayune, October 25, 1998
3800 Howard Ave., New Orleans, LA 70140
Fax 504-826-3369

The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- Lawyers for gay men and lesbians who say Louisiana's sodomy law makes them second-class citizens will argue this week that the law should be ruled unconstitutional.

In a civil trial scheduled to begin Monday, they are expected to argue that the law and its five-year maximum prison term illegally invades homosexuals' privacy and discriminates against them.

But lawyers for the state will contend that Louisiana has the authority to outlaw immoral conduct and impose penalties for engaging in it. Attorneys for the state Attorney General's Office will argue that Western civilization has long frowned on sodomy and that Louisiana must protect the moral integrity of children.

The law, which is almost 200 years old, makes oral or anal sex a criminal act, even between consenting adults. Louisiana is one of only 13 states that such sex a crime between couples. Six other states outlaw the conduct between same-sex partners only.

Enforcement of the law was barred in every Louisiana parish except Jefferson Parish since the Louisiana Electorate of Gays and Lesbians Inc. received an injunction in Orleans Parish in 1994.

But State District Judge Robert Murphy extended the ban to Jefferson Parish in a ruling issued last Friday.

Expected to testify against the law is a neurobiologist who says sexual orientation is something people are probably born with. Gay men and lesbians will also share stories of fear and discrimination. A tourism official will testify that New Orleans could lose millions of dollars if the law isn't repealed.

The government's lineup includes the leader of a group that says it helps gay men and lesbians become heterosexual, and an expert who says people choose to be gay.

State lawyers declined comment on the case, but said in court papers that Louisiana should protect children from abuse and associations that can "have a strong influence on shaping further sexual attraction and activity."

A lawyer for the gay men and lesbians said they suffer from discrimination even though the law is not enforced.

"The bottom line is that the crime against nature law is Louisiana's official condemnation of its lesbian and gay citizens," said John Rawls, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit.

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