Louisiana House Votes to Keep Anti-Sodomy Law on the Books

Louisiana House Votes to Keep Anti-Sodomy Law on the Books

The Louisiana state House voted Tuesday 66-27 to keep a ban against certain types of sodomy.

As The Times-Picayune reported Wednesday, though Louisiana’s anti-sodomy law was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003, the state’s legislature has been unwilling to officially remove the statute from the books.

A state House committee approved legislation that would remove the ban and allowed it to pass onto the House floor by a vote of 9-6 last week. However, the Christian Louisiana Family Forum, a conservative lobbying group, fought the striking of the sodomy ban.

The group sent a letter to every lawmaker, urging a vote against the bill to end the ban. They argued that teens would be less protected from sexual predators if the sodomy ban were lifted. The Family Forum also argued that passage of the measure would put public health at risk.

“Louisiana’s anti-sodomy statute is consistent with the values of Louisiana residents who consider this behavior to be dangerous, unhealthy and immoral,” the Family Forum’s letter to legislators said.

Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith (D), who sponsored the bill to remove the sodomy ban, asserted during floor debate that her proposal merely seeks to repeal a statute that is already unconstitutional.

“I never thought it would pass, but I thought it would do better,” Smith said. “Some of the folks who voted to get it out of committee voted against it on the floor.”

The anti-sodomy law received national attention last summer when East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriffs’ Deputies utilized the statute to arrest men who agreed to have sex with undercover male law enforcement officers. The District Attorney refused to prosecute the men, and the pressure of intense criticism resulted in Sheriff Sid Gautreaux’s decision to apologize for the arrests. According to several lawmakers, both the D.A. and Gautreaux’s office supported the bill to lift the sodomy ban.