New Orleans D.A.: Change sodomy law

BY Advocate.com Editors

March 01 2003 1:00 AM ET

New Orleans's new district attorney said he would support efforts to repeal laws making oral or anal sex illegal in Louisiana. "If the legislature is willing to reconsider, I will testify that private, noncommercial acts of sodomy between consenting adults are not a public matter and therefore should not be a violation of the law," Eddie Jordan said Thursday in a news release.

Under Louisiana's "crimes against nature" laws, anal or oral sex is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison and $2,000 in fines. Gay and lesbian groups have unsuccessfully lobbied the state legislature to overhaul the law and failed to get the 197-year-old statute overturned in the courts. They say it criminalizes their sex lives and has been used to target gay people for arrest. They also have noted that it covers sex acts between consenting heterosexual adults.

The law should apply only to prostitution and nonconsensual or public sexual acts, Jordan said. "The state has a legitimate public interest in holding accountable all persons who are guilty of these kinds of despicable criminal acts," the district attorney said. Jordan, 50, took over from longtime former district attorney Harry Connick in January. He is a former U.S. attorney best known for prosecuting former governor Edwin Edwards for racketeering and fraud in a riverboat casino licensing case. Edwards is serving a 10-year sentence.

Gay activists have praised Jordan for taking a stance on sodomy laws. "He is the first in this state to come out publicly advocating for reform of an outdated law," said Christopher Daigle, chairman of the Louisiana Lesbian and Gay Political Action Caucus.

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