A Louisiana state senate committee has advanced a bill that could mean at least 10 days in jail for anyone convicted of engaging in sex acts in public places. Rep. Danny Martiny said he decided to sponsor the bill after viewing a video by a New Orleans minister that ostensibly documented the goings-on at a gay street festival. "In the middle of a public street, in front of a crowd, people were engaging in a sex act," Martiny explained to the senate judiciary committee on Tuesday.
The tape was made during the 2002 Southern Decadence festival, an annual gay celebration in New Orleans's French Quarter that features a parade, pageants of men in drag, and numerous parties at area bars. Martiny was quick to note that his bill isn't targeting gay people, the gay festival, or Mardi Gras, where New Orleans's tolerance for breast flashing is well-known. A public sex act that is obviously being conducted "for entertaining a crowd" is a more serious matter, Martiny said.
Martiny's bill outlaws intercourse in public view "for the purpose of gaining the attention of the public." Maximum penalties are a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. At least 10 days of the jail sentence must be served without possibility of parole, pardon, or suspension of sentence. Nobody spoke against the bill, which goes next to the senate floor. If approved there, it will go back to the house for approval of minor senate amendments, then to Gov. Mike Foster.