Louisiana Refuses to Repeal Unconstitutional Sodomy Law

In 2003, the Supreme Court overturned all state anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence v Texas, making them unenforceable. But the Louisiana state legislature is insisting by a better than 2-1 margin that they keep their law on the books anyway because…well, who the hell knows why.

Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, sought to remove consensual sex between people of the same sex from Louisiana’s crimes against nature law. The U.S. Supreme Court threw out a similar Texas law a decade ago in Lawrence v. Texas.

Smith brought the bill after Baton Rouge-area police arrested gay men using the law but couldn’t charge them because the district attorney said the law was unenforceable.

She said the bill would help police officers do their jobs more efficiently by getting rid of an unusable law.

“The bill only removes unconstitutional language,” she said.

But Smith couldn’t win the backing of the House, which voted 66-27 against her repeal proposal. The bill was opposed by religious and conservative organizations.

Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, objected to the measure, saying the law protects children and upholds morality.

“It’s a vote of conscience,” she said.

Well yes, I agree with that. And this person’s conscience thinks a law that discriminates against, marginalizes and punishes people on the ridiculous basis that she thinks her god disapproves of them must be preserved, even if they can’t be enforced. And even though it’s still being used to justify arresting people in one of the state’s largest cities. There’s something seriously wrong with your conscience, lady.

"I'm the fascistic Nazi that you've been hoping to meet all your life!Given the triple-parenthesis ..."

The Sexist Idea Behind ‘Enforced Monogamy’
"Hyper-intelligent, trans-dimensional beings? Reminds me of Frankie and Benjy Mouse."

Trump Under Attack by ‘Advanced Beings’ ..."
"See! You haven't been invited either. It seems to be a closed shop."

Begley: Hillary Would Have Turned Over ..."
"Marxists are the true friends of the people too. How ironic."

Dear White People: You Don’t Get ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I’m more concerned with a law Louisiana recently passed, barring anyone working at an abortion clinic from teaching in public school.

  • rationalinks

    The GOP is still the party of small government right?

  • John Pieret

    … because…well, who the hell knows why

    Last year they refused to repeal the “Balanced Treatment” (of creationism and evolution in public schools) that the Supreme Court struck down in 1987, for goodness sakes! They were explicit on that occasion when some legislators said that they wanted to keep the law on the books in hopes that the composition of the Supreme Court changed and would allow creationism to be taught in public schools. One wonders if Louisiana ever repealed its laws allowing slavery.

  • cjcolucci

    New York’s consensual sodomy law was struck down in the early 1980’s but remains on the books. Nobody enforces it anymore, and nobody has bothered to try a formal repeal, so none of our legislators have had an opportunity to embarass themselves. If we ever get around to a comprehensive revision of our criminal code, as we had in 1967, it probably won’t be part of the new law.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Y’all are missing the point of having this law on the books.

    As long as it’s there, the police can use it to harass them and jail them overnight. Better yet, prosecutors can bring charges against them and cost them serious change in legal expenses; remember, prosecutors have to stand for election. Judges can allow the cases to proceed to trial (judges also have to stand for election) and juries can find the defendants guilty (thereby Standing for Jesus.)

    If some liberal activist Federal judge eventually overturns the conviction, it’ll only be that much more grist for God’s Own Police, Prosecutors, and Judges to run against. And in the meantime, they are going to be out some serious money for all of it.

  • Chiroptera

    Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, objected to the measure, saying the law protects children and upholds morality.

    Because the best way to protect children is an unenforceable all against something that doesn’t pose a danger.

  • Chiroptera

    “unenforceable law”

    And this time I can’t blame autocorrect.

  • Trebuchet

    …well, who the hell knows why.

    Easy-Peasy. They have to get re-elected. In most cases they aren’t going to achieve that by voting for sodomy.

  • moarscienceplz

    I still think Lincoln made a mistake when he forced the confederate states to re-join the union.

  • abb3w

    If someone is arrested for a law held unenforceable, would that be grounds for a civil lawsuit against the police department?

  • D. C. Sessions

    If someone is arrested for a law held unenforceable, would that be grounds for a civil lawsuit against the police department?

    IANAL, but I doubt it. That’s not really in their scope. If anything, that kind of “don’t arrest people under this statute, because it’s been overturned” legal direction should be coming from the prosecutor. So if you’re looking for someone to blame when these laws are enforced, take it up with the prosecutor.

    Who, conveniently enough, has absolute immunity.

  • thascius

    @2-“The GOP is still the party of small government right?” I presume you meant this ironically, but actually, no, it never was. The debate between liberals and conservatives isn’t really about big government vs small government but about who should benefit from government policies. Billionaire GOP donor Sheldon Adelson’s all for big government shutting down internet gambling which might compete with his casinos. The Koch brothers are in favor of government spending when it comes to the billions of dollars in subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. In the not too distant past the GOP was in favor of the surveillance state, locking people up without charges, even torture. And of course the people shrieking the loudest about deficit spending today are the exact same people who were saying “deficits don’t matter” when George W. Bush was president.

  • Synfandel

    Fracking is a crime against nature. Fucking is not.

  • John Pieret

    If someone is arrested for a law held unenforceable, would that be grounds for a civil lawsuit against the police department?

    IAAL and the lawsuit would not be so much against the police department but against the jurisdiction (state or local) that failed to properly train the PD. Ignorance of the law is no defense for governments either.

  • tuibguy

    They want to keep it on the books because someday the Supreme Court will be theologically conservative enough that the anti-sodomy laws will again be constitutional and they will have their bedroom police ready to go without having to bother with new legislation.

  • If a law has previously been declared unconstitutional, it should be taken as read that the law cannot be imposed by the state, and thus any attempt to enforce it should be considered a personal act of the legislators who supported it, placing full civil and criminal liability on them for any attempt to enforce the law. After all, the state has already officially repudiated that law, so it MUST be them personally who is responsible for it. So, anyone arrested under that law should be considered to have been assaulted and kidnapped by the legislators responsible.