Last edited: April 16, 2005


Louisiana Gays Battles ‘Crimes Against Nature’ Law, March 30, 2005

By The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA—Gay rights activists say Louisiana has some unfinished business in the aftermath of the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down anti-sodomy laws, and they are taking their arguments to a state appeal court on Thursday.

Last year, a state district judge in suburban Gretna followed the Supreme Court’s ruling by striking down part of Louisiana’s “crimes against nature” law. But John Rawls, an attorney for the Louisiana Electorate for Gays and Lesbians, said the ruling did not go far enough. True, Judge Robert Murphy of Jefferson Parish struck down parts of the law making it criminal for consenting adults to have oral or anal sex with each other.

But he declined to strike down a law making the state attorney general’s office responsible for prosecuting organizations or corporations formed for the purpose of organized homosexuality, prostitution, narcotics and other activities spelled out in the law.

Rawls wants the references to homosexuality struck from that law.

“It means my gay civil rights organization can be abolished at the whim of the attorney general if he can find a friendly enough judge,” Rawls said.

Murphy also left intact parts of the crimes against nature law forbidding human sex with animals, solicitation for oral and anal sex, and aggravated crimes against nature—aggravated usually meaning nonconsensual sex or sex involving someone who is underaged.

Rawls said he is not arguing that those parts should remain legal. The problem, he said, is that the judge did more than just delete sections: He rewrote a section with more than 100 words into one with 15 words.

“A judge, with the best of intentions, cannot rewrite a statute. Even if the result that he winds up with is the best statute in the world, it is not a statute,” Rawls said.

Rawls said the entire crime against nature law should be struck down in light of the 2003 Supreme Court case. Since the U.S. Supreme Court threw out sodomy laws and the Legislature has so far done nothing to pass new laws to replace Louisiana’s, “it’s the obligation of the courts to throw the law out,” Rawls argues.

Jefferson Parish prosecutors disagree.

Assistant District Attorney Terry M. Boudreaux wrote in a nine-paragraph brief that Murphy was correct to leave parts of the law intact.

That interpretation is supported by the fact that, earlier this year, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the section which makes solicitation of oral or anal sex a felony even though other types of prostitution are a misdemeanor.

He said his office would have no comments beyond its brief and the arguments it will make Thursday.

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