Last edited: February 13, 2005


Senate Committee Votes to Repeal Louisiana Sodomy Law

Courts in other states have already jettisoned laws over last 20 years

Shreveport Times, May 28, 2003

The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE—Louisiana’s 19th-century anti-sodomy law, the subject of past unsuccessful court and legislative challenges, was struck down in a Senate committee Tuesday.

Tuesday’s bill, by Sen. Lynn Dean, R-Braithwaite, makes legal private, consensual sex that is otherwise illegal—what the current law calls a “crime against nature.”

Two years ago, a similar bill was defeated in the House of Representatives after making it through committee. Last fall a state appeals court upheld the 197-year-old law.

Tuesday’s bill survived critical testimony from conservative activists, and may even have been helped by it. Senator Paulette Irons, D-New Orleans, was attacked by one of the witnesses, Pat Harris of New Orleans, for supporting a “gay rights platform.”

Harris refused to identify herself further after the meeting.

Her observation provoked a furious rebuttal from Irons, and the announcement from Sen. Greg Tarver, D-Shreveport, that he would vote for the bill because a fellow senator had been attacked.

“During my duration here in the legislature, I’ve always voted against these laws,” Tarver said. “You attacked a legislator, and I’m going to vote to move this out of committee,” Tarver said.

Opponents argued as they have in the past, including the suggestion that Dean’s bill was antifamily, was a threat to public health and could harm children.

Dean spoke briefly in favor of his bill, provoking giggles when he said: “We all do things, I’m sure, when we are behind closed doors.”

Courts in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Montana, Maryland and Georgia have all jettisoned anti-sodomy laws over the last 20 years.

Dean’s bill passed 3-1 Tuesday.

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