Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Legislator pushes to remove crimes against nature from Louisiana law

Posted By on Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 1:10 PM

State legislators, law enforcement officials and equal rights groups all are supporting a push to remove "anti-sodomy" language in state laws that have been used to criminalize same-sex relationships. State Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, filed House Bill 12, which would remove consensual oral and anal sex from the state's "crimes against nature" statute.

East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office made arrests under the anti-sodomy "crimes against nature" statute between 2011 and 2013 — despite the U.S. Supreme Court declaring it unconstitutional in 2003 and ruled unenforceable. East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux III later apologized and pledged to work to remove the language from the law. East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore, Louisiana Sheriffs Association director Michael Renatza, and Pete Adams, director of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association, also announced their support.

In a statement to The Advocate, Louisiana Family Forum president Gene Mills implied his group would put up a fight to keep the language in the statute, and, “It may be difficult for Pat to find a great deal of support in this legislative body for taking it off the books."

Mills' comments don't mirror public onion — a December 2013 report from a LSU Public Policy Research Lab poll found that nearly 90 percent of respondents (nearly 1,200 people) support protection for LGBT people in schools, housing and in the workplace. The survey was designed by Capital City Alliance, Equality Louisiana and Louisiana Progress. Pollsters asked 1,280 people throughout Louisiana three questions: 89 percent of respondents agreed schools should “protect gay and transgender students from bullying and harassment”; 93.7 percent agreed people should not be “evicted or denied housing because they are gay or transgender”; and 89.3 percent agreed employers should not be able to “fire employees because they are gay or transgender.”

Among the demographics based on 2011 census results, pollsters reported that Republicans and people age 65 and older also largely responded in support of anti-discrimination for sexual orientation.

In a statement, Equality Louisiana president Tim West said, "This bill is a common sense solution to a silly problem. It just makes sense to remove an unenforceable law from the books. The only reason for Mills’ belief is unambiguous discrimination."

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