Two states with universal sodomy laws consider high court ruling

BY Advocate.com Editors

June 27 2003 12:00 AM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a ban on gay sex wipes out a 198-year-old Louisiana sodomy law that applied to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, according to an attorney who has been fighting the law. On a 6-3 vote, the high court ruled that Texas's sodomy law--which applied only to gays--was an unconstitutional violation of privacy. Texas and three other states banned sex acts between only people of the same sex. Louisiana is one of nine states that banned consensual oral and anal sex for everyone. By reversing a 1986 ruling that allowed a sodomy law similar to the Texas law, the court negated all state sodomy laws, regardless of whether they covered just gays or both gays and heterosexuals, said John Rawls, an attorney representing the Louisiana Electorate of Gays and Lesbians. "It's a home run. It's all gone," Rawls said. "It means that there is no longer a legal basis for denying lesbian and gay people equality before the law."

The Louisiana attorney general's office was analyzing the state law and the high court's ruling and did not immediately comment. Last year the Louisiana supreme court shot down two challenges to the state sodomy law. In one ruling the court ruled that the law did not violate the privacy clause of the state constitution. During this year's legislative session a state senate committee approved legislation repealing the law, but the measure died without further action being taken.

Meanwhile, Alabama attorney general Bill Pryor, who wrote a brief supporting the Texas law,
issued a brief statement Thursday saying the ruling is a "new interpretation of the Constitution." He said the decision means that Alabama's sodomy law, "which prohibits consensual sodomy between unmarried persons, is now unenforceable." Pryor is being considered for a seat on the 11th circuit U.S. court of appeals. In a highly publicized case last year, Alabama chief justice Roy Moore cited the Alabama law and what he called the "inherent evil" of homosexuality in upholding a lower court ruling rejecting a lesbian mother's request for custody of her three children. The president of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, John Giles, said that while personal privacy should be protected, he is concerned that the Supreme Court decision will further a national campaign to legalize marriage between gays. "God have mercy on America," said Giles.

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