Last edited: February 14, 2005


ACLU Vows to Continue Fighting Louisiana Sodomy Law in Wake of State Supreme Court Decision Upholding It

American Civil Liberties Union
For Immediate Release: Friday, July 7, 2000

Contact: Eric Ferrero, ACLU (212-549-2568)

Baton Rouge, LA — As the Louisiana Supreme Court today announced its 5-2 decision upholding the state’s sodomy statute, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project said it will continue the fight against that law and sodomy laws in 17 other states and Puerto Rico.

In the Louisiana decision, Justice Chet Traylor wrote for the majority, "Simply put, commission of what the Legislature determines as an immoral act, even if consensual and private, is an injury against society itself." The court’s dissenting opinion noted that the state’s sodomy law punishes private, consensual intimacy.

The ACLU had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case. Recently, several state court decisions have found Louisiana’s sodomy law unconstitutional.

"This decision is obviously disappointing, but we have never looked at eliminating sodomy laws as short-term work," said Michael Adams, Associate Director of the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "The struggle against these unconstitutional laws has gone on for decades, and we are committed to continue the fight until every single state is free of such statutes."

Adams said that in the next few days, the ACLU will study the Louisiana Supreme Court’s decision and consult with local attorneys on future strategy.

Under Louisiana’s sodomy law, consenting adults — gay or straight — can be punished for up to five years for engaging in private, non-commercial oral or anal sex.

Puerto Rico and 18 states currently have sodomy laws on the books. In five of those states, the laws apply only to gay men and lesbians. But Adams said even laws that also apply to straight people are often selectively enforced to discriminate against lesbians and gay men.

"Many people have this idea that sodomy laws are just really old legal codes that exist in name only. In fact, we regularly work with people who have been arrested or threatened with arrest, as well as people who have lost their jobs and their children because they are committing felonies in states with sodomy laws," Adams said.

The ACLU’s challenge to Puerto Rico’s sodomy law is pending before a Court of Appeals there. Last month, the ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit challenging Minnesota’s sodomy statute.

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Complete background and information on sodomy laws is available at the ACLU’s web site,

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