Last edited: February 14, 2005


Bill To Change Sodomy Law Fails In House

Baton Rouge Advocate, May 18, 2001
525 Lafayette St., Baton Rouge, LA 70821
Fax: 504-388-0371

By Scott Dyer, Capitol news bureau

The House came within six votes of passing a bill Thursday to legalize oral and anal sex between consenting adults behind closed doors.

The defeat came in spite of an attempt to revamp the law so it could still be used to arrest homosexuals who have sex acts in Baton Rouge parks.

Under Louisiana’s current sodomy law, oral and anal sex are felonies, regardless of whether the participants are homosexuals or heterosexuals, and even if they are married to each other.

HB2036 by Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, simply says that "sexual acts committed by and between consenting adults in private shall not be deemed as a crime against nature."

He said he will seek another vote on the measure.

Rep. Tony Perkins, R-Baker, decried the bill as an attempt by homosexuals to "push the envelope."

"This legislation has nothing to do with what married couples do in their bedrooms — and it has everything to do with legitimizing homosexuality," Perkins said.

During the debate, Perkins circulated a letter from Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Superintendent Gene Young, who expressed concern that Richmond’s bill might complicate efforts to crack down on homosexual behavior in local parks.

"Our concern is that, in its current form, HB2026 allows such activity in ‘private,’ but does not define ‘private,’ Young said in the letter.

"It is unclear whether this language would permit this activity in a park restroom or toilet stall or even behind a tree," Young added.

Rep. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe, echoed Young’s concerns, noting that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a public restroom.

"What you’re concerned about is whether you can watch it," Richmond shot back.

To address the concerns voiced by Young, state Rep. Emma Devillier, D-Plaquemine, amended the bill to say that the sodomy ban still would apply if the acts occur in public places, "including but not limited to public parks and public restrooms."

But Perkins said that, even with the change, it’s unclear whether oral and anal sex acts performed in cars would be considered to be in private — even though they might be viewed by others.

Another opponent, Rep. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, also noted that the current law is also routinely used to arrest heterosexual prostitutes.

But Richmond noted that other laws on the book could be used to prosecute prostitutes.

Speaking in favor of the bill was Rep. Danny Martiny, R-Kenner, who noted that much of the opposition to Richmond’s bill was mounted on religious grounds.

"A lot of you have told me in private, ‘Man, I can’t vote for this bill — those religious people back home will kill me,’" Martiny said.

Martiny said the law is not about gay rights, noting that married heterosexuals could be prosecuted under the current sodomy law.

"We need to show a little courage and stand up and say, ‘The current law doesn’t make any sense,’" Martiny said.

Richmond emphasized that the bill is not meant to be a vote on gay rights.

"This is not a referendum on any type of lifestyle. It is a referendum on privacy," Richmond said.

The bill failed by a vote 47-45. A majority of 53 votes is needed to pass a bill in the 105-member House. Twelve members did not vote.

Richmond said he intends to bring the bill up for another vote.

Here’s how the House voted on the bill to decriminalize sodomy between consenting adults in private.

Voting FOR decriminalizing sodomy — (47) Speaker DeWitt and Reps. Alario, Ansardi, Baylor, Bowler, Bruneau, K. Carter, Cazayoux, Clarkson, Crane, Damico, Daniel, Devillier, Donelon, Faucheux, Gallot, Glover, Green, Hill, Holden, Hudson, Hunter, Hutter, Iles, L. Jackson, M. Jackson, LaFleur, Lancaster, Landrieu, Martiny, Montgomery, Morrell, Murray, Pierre, Pitre, Pratt, Quezaire, Richmond, Schwegmann, Gary Smith, Sneed, Thompson, Toomy, Welch, Winston, Wooten and Wright.

Voting AGAINST decriminalizing sodomy — (45) Reps. E. Alexander, R. Alexander, Baudoin, Broome, Bruce, R. Carter, Crowe, Curtis, Dartez, Diez, Doerge, Downer, Durand, Erdey, Farrar, Frith, Fruge, Futrell, Hammett, Hebert, Johns, Katz, Kennard, Kenney, LeBlanc, Lucas, McCallum, McVea, Morrish, Nevers, Odinet, Perkins, Pinac, Powell, Riddle, Romero, Salter, Scalise, Shaw, Jane Smith, John Smith, Strain, Tucker, Waddell and Walsworth.

Not Voting — (12) Reps. Flavin, Guillory, Heaton, Hopkins, McDonald, McMains, Schneider, Jack Smith, Stelly, Swilling, Townsend and Triche.

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