An effort to repeal Louisiana's 197-year-old sodomy law failed in the state senate Tuesday evening, the latest in a series of legislative and legal defeats stretching back several years. The effort, sponsored by Sen. Lynn Dean (R-Braithwaite), would have legalized private consensual sex acts that are otherwise illegal--what the current law calls a "crime against nature." The bill narrowly made it out of a senate committee two weeks ago, but Tuesday's defeat was decisive, even though no one spoke against it. Last fall a state appeals court upheld the 19th-century law.
Opponents of a repeal have traditionally linked the measure to gay rights, making passage in a body with a large proportion of members from conservative areas unlikely. During the committee hearings a Louisiana Family Forum representative said repeal of the state's sodomy law would lead to disease and child abuse. Dean made only a brief speech Tuesday. "When it's done privately, they should have freedom to do this," he said. "This bill has nothing to do with children. Right now the only thing standing between a substantial number of our Louisiana citizens and prosecution" is the inclination of authorities not to pursue charges, Dean said.