Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge, unsuccessfully pushed legislation to repeal an unconstitutional law that makes sodomy a criminal act. (File photo)
The Louisiana House of Representatives rejected
, on Tuesday, that would remove the state's symbolic ban on certain kinds of sodomy. The bill failed by a wide margin
was overturned and declared unconstitutional in 2003, with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling such state statutes could not be enforced. Still, the Legislature has been unwilling to officially strike the measure from state law, even though it can't be used as a cause for arrest.
A House Committee passed the legislation onto the body's floor by
. But one of the state's most powerful lobbying groups, the conservative Christian Louisiana Family Forum, opposes striking the sodomy ban.
The group sent out a letter to every legislator urging them to vote against the proposal, claiming that teenagers would be less protected from sexual predators if they went through with the repeal. They also said the bill would put the 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," stated the letter to lawmakers from the Louisiana Family Forum.
During a floor discussion of the bill, the legislation's sponsor, Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith, pushed back on the Family Forum's assertions. The bill only seeks to repeal a statute that is already unconstitutional, she said.
"I never thought it would pass, but I thought it would do better," said Smith. "Some of the folks who voted to get it out of committee voted against it on the floor."
The law remaining on the books came under national scrutiny last summer when East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriffs' Deputies used the statute to
who agreed to have sex with undercover male law enforcement officers. The District Attorney declined to prosecute the men, and the sheriff, Sid Gautreaux, under intense criticism, later apologized for the arrests. Both the District Attorney and the sheriff's office supporter Smith's legislation to remove the law, according to several legislators.
Smith, who represents Baton Rouge, said she brought the bill, in part, because of those arrests, which drew negative national attention to her community. "We want to be fair to the law enforcement individuals. ... We don't need inefficient bills on our statutes that they cannot take to a prosecutor," said Smith during
HOW THEY VOTED:
IN FAVOR of getting rid of the law that criminalizes sodomy:
Reps. Jeff Arnold, D-New Orleans; Austin Badon, D-New Orleans; Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans; Jared Brossett, D-New Orleans; Roy Burrell, D-Shreveport; Herbert Dixon, D-Alexandria; John Bel Edwards D-Amite; Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge; A B Franklin, D-Lake Charles; Randal Gaines, D- LaPlace; Lowell Hazel, R-Pineville; Dalton Honore, D-Baton Rouge; Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe; Edward "Ted" James, D-Baton Rouge; Patrick Jefferson, D-Homer; Nancy Landry R-Lafayette; Terry Landry D-New Iberia; Walt Leger, D-New Orleans; Jack Mountoucet, D-Crowley; Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans; Vincent Pierre, D-Lafayette; Edward Price, D-Gonzales; Patricia Haynes Smith, D-Baton Rouge, Karen St. Germain, D-Plaquemines; Ledricka Thierry, D-Opelousas; Patrick Willams, D-Shreveport; Ebony Woodruff, D-Harvey
AGAINST getting rid of the law criminalizes sodomy:
Bryan Adams, R-Gretna; John "Andy" Anders, D-Vidalia; James Armes, D-Leeville; Taylor Barras R-New Iberia; John Berthelot, R-Gonzales; Robert Billiot, R-Westwego; Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette; Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond; Terry Brown R-Colfax; Terry Burns, R-Haughton; Timothy Burns, R-Mandeville;Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport; Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge; Simone Champagne, R-Erath; Charles Chaney, R-Rayville; Patrick Connick, R-Marrero; Gregory Cromer, R-Slidell; Michael Danahay, D-Sulphur; Gordon Dove, R-Houma; Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro; Ray Garofalo, R-Chalmette; Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles; Jerry Gisclair, D-Larose; Hunter Greene, R-Baton Rouge; Mickey Guillory, D-Eunice; John Guinn, R-Jennings; Lance Harris, R-Alexandria; Joe Harrison, R-Gray; Kenneth Havard, R-Jackson; Cameron Henry, R-Metairie; Bob Hensgens, R-Abbeville; Dorothy Sue Hill, D-Dry Creek; Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs; Frank Hoffman, R-West Monroe; Paul Hollis, R-Covington; Frank Howard, R-Many; Mike Huval, R-Breaux Bridge; Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge; Robert Johnson, D-Marksville; Sam Jones, D-Franklin; Eddie Lambert, R-Gonzales; Bernard LeBas, D-Ville Platte; Christopher Leopold, R-Belle Chase; Joe Lopinto, R-Metairie; Nick Lorusso, R-New Orleans; Sherman Mack, R-Livingston; Gregory Miller, R-Norco; Jay Morris, R-Monroe; Jim Morris, R-Oil City; Kevin Pearson, R-Slidell; Erich Ponti, R-Baton Rouge; Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs; Stephen Pugh, R-Ponchatoula; Steve Pylant, R-Winnsboro; Eugene Reynolds, D-Minden; Jerome Richard, I-Thibodaux; Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa; Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales; John Schroder, R-Covington; Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport; Robert Shadoin, R-Ruston; Scott Simon, R-Abita Springs; Julia Stokes, R-Kenner; Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge; Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City; Lenar Whitney, R-Houma; Thomas Willmott, R-Kenner
Reps. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans; Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles; Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge; Richard Burford, R-Stonewall; Kenny Cox, D-Natchitoches;
Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe; Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport; Stephen Ortego, D-Carencro; Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette; Major Thibaut, D-New Roads; Alfred Williams, D-Baton Rouge