Last edited: January 02, 2005


Court: Sodomy Law Unconstitutional

Associated Press, March 17, 1999

By Kevin McGill

NEW ORLEANS–Louisiana's sodomy law was thrown out Wednesday by a state judge who said the statute unconstitutionally criminalizes private sexual behavior by adults.

"The state has presented no evidence, much less the required compelling state interest, to justify its intrusion on plaintiffs' constitutionally protected right of privacy,'' Judge Carolyn Gill-Jefferson wrote.

The law makes consensual oral and anal sex a felony punishable by five years in prison.

The ruling was the second victory for opponents of the sodomy law. In February, the state 4th Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the conviction of a man found guilty of having oral sex with a woman. The appeal court said the law violated privacy rights.

John Rawls, attorney for the gay men and women who challenged the law, predicted the decision, made public Wednesday, will be appealed and upheld by the state Supreme Court.

The opinion applies to 63 parishes. A separate case governs Jefferson Parish in suburban New Orleans, where a judge has granted a temporary order suspending enforcement of the law while the case is heard.

Because it is a civil case dealing directly with a constitutional issue, Gill-Jefferson's case would go directly to the Supreme Court if the state challenges it. The 4th Circuit ruling is pending before the high court.

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