After narrow passage in a House committee earlier this month, House Bill 12 — which aimed to remove language in Louisiana's crimes against nature statute criminalizing consensual oral and anal sex — died on the floor of the Louisiana House by a vote of 27-66. (See Commentary, p. 13.)
The bill by state Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, would have removed language similar to that in a 200-year-old Texas law that was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003. Louisiana's law was later struck down by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2005. Smith's measure gained approval from LGBT organizations as well as Louisiana criminal justice organizations on the grounds that they can't enforce the law as it now reads.
State Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, asked the House to vote against Smith's measure, considering "yesterday was Passover and Friday is Good Friday.
"This has been on the Louisiana law books for nearly 200 years," Hodges said of the sodomy law. "Just because we decriminalize something doesn't make it right. ... We're not here to rubber stamp the Supreme Court. ... We're here to uphold the law of what's right and wrong."
The bill faced similar religious objection in the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee on April 9, when members of the Louisiana Family Forum called the measure "immoral" and said removing the language would create a health crisis.
At the April 15 House session, Smith pleaded with members to vote in favor "not only for me, for this bill, but for your law enforcement ... bringing in people who can't be prosecuted."
Orleans and Jefferson Parish Reps. Jeff Arnold, Austin Badon, Wesley Bishop, Jared Brossett, Helena Moreno, Walt Leger and Ebony Woodruff were among the 27 people who voted in favor of striking the unconstitutional language.