Last edited: August 28, 2004


Judge Strikes Down Portions of Louisiana Sodomy Law

The Advocate, August 28, 2004

A judge has ruled that portions of Louisiana law criminalizing consensual oral and anal sex between adults are unconstitutional and has permanently barred prosecutors in Jefferson Parish from enforcing them. The Louisiana Electorate for Gays and Lesbians sued the Jefferson Parish district attorney’s office in 1996, after the office was dismissed from a case in Orleans Parish that resulted in a statewide ban on enforcement of the “crimes against nature” law.

That 1996 suit prompted a preliminary injunction from state district judge Robert Murphy in 1998, temporarily prohibiting Jefferson Parish prosecutors from pursuing any cases. His ruling this week makes that permanent, prosecutors said.

Attorney John Rawls, representing LEGAL, said he considered Murphy’s ruling a loss because the judge granted only part of what the group was seeking. Rawls said LEGAL wanted two laws stricken but that the judge struck only a portion of one. An appeal is planned.

Murphy wrote that he based his decision in part on the June 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Texas case in which two men were arrested in 1998 for having sex in one of the their homes. In that case, the high court struck down the nation’s sodomy laws as unconstitutional. Despite that decision, Louisiana’s “crimes against nature” law, which includes bans on consensual oral and anal sex, remains on the books.

Rawls, who has called the law discriminatory, said the legislature could have addressed the statute in its recent session but did not. But Murphy left intact portions of the state law that ban human sex with animals, solicitation for oral and anal sex, and aggravated crimes against nature. Such acts are typically considered aggravated when they are nonconsensual or when the victim is underage.

Murphy also declined to strike down a statute that charges the state attorney general’s office with prosecuting organizations or corporations formed for the purpose of organized homosexuality, prostitution, narcotics, and other activities spelled out in the law. Rawls wanted references to homosexuality struck from the laws.

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