Last edited: November 29, 2003


Appeals Court Upholds Sodomy Law

"Crime against nature" law intact

Associated Press, November 22, 2002

Cain Burdeau, Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS—Louisiana’s 197-year-old law against oral and anal sex has been upheld by a state appeals panel.

A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled 2-1 against the challenge by the Louisiana Electorate of Gays and Lesbians Inc., leaving Louisiana’s sodomy law intact.

"This decision continues to put Louisiana outside the mainsteam," said John D. Rawls, an attorney for a group of gays and lesbians. "We are still the only state whose courts deny a right to privacy to its citizens, we are still the only state whose courts have upheld sodomy laws, we are still back in the 18th century unfortunately."

The 4th Circuit ruling, handed down Wednesday, was the latest action in a complicated case. The state Supreme Court had already ruled that the law does not violate the right to privacy. Wednesday’s ruling dealt with the issue of discrimination.

Judge Charles R. Jones was the dissenting vote. His reasons for objecting had not been written as of Friday morning. Judges Joan Bernard Armstrong and David S. Gorbaty wrote the majority opinion.

The majority said the plaintiffs brought no evidence that the "crime against nature" law discrimates against gays and lesbians.

The judges dismissed an argument that Judge Carolyn Gill-Jefferson, the trial judge, erred in not letting a state representative, Edwin Murray, testify that lawmakers did not want to repeal the sodomy law because of "antigay" sentiments.

"In the trial case, discriminatory purpose by the lawmaking body was not given," the opinion said.

The appeals court also sided with the trial judge in not letting witnesses testify as to the harmful effects of the law on gays and lesbians.

LEGL has argued that the rights of gays and lesbians to assemble also get trampled by the sodomy laws.

The appeals court disagreed. "The evidence presented at trial did not support the plaintiffs’ contention."

"That statute obviously expresses Louisiana’s overarching public policy to treat its gay citzens like scum. The rest of the opinion speaks for itself," Rawls said.

Rawls said the appeals ruling will give New Orleans a black eye and drive away "hundreds of million of dollars of convention business down the road."

As for what action to take next to scrap the law, Rawls said "I’m considering my options and consulting with my fellow petitioners."

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