Louisiana -- Age of Sexual Consent
[EDITOR NOTE: Updated 07-10-00]
Louisiana just had a 5-2 Supreme Court decision maintaining the illegality
of sodomy, regardless of the gender, age, or marital status of the participants.
See the site:
Appeals court strikes down Louisiana law banning oral and anal sex
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- An appeals court has thrown out a 194-year-old Louisiana sodomy law, saying non-commercial oral and anal sex is protected by the right to privacy in the state constitution. The state 4th Circuit Court of Appeal issued the 3-0 ruling Tuesday, reversing the 1996 conviction of Mitchell E. Smith. He had been accused of raping a woman but found guilty under the state's "crimes against nature" statute only of having her perform oral sex. "There can be no doubt that the right of consenting adults to engage in private non-commercial sexual activity, free from governmental interference, is protected by the privacy clause of the Louisiana Constitution," the judges wrote. The law makes anal and oral sex between consenting adults felonies punishable by up to five years in prison. It dates from 1805, just after Louisiana was purchased by the United States. Gay rights groups praised the ruling, saying it decriminalizes their only sexual options. The law applies equally to homosexuals and heterosexuals, but gay men and lesbians say it targets them. "It's a great legal ruling," said Suzanne Goldberg, a lawyer with the Lamda Legal Defense and Education Fund. "It is completely consistent with rulings by other courts nationwide striking down these laws as outrageous invasions of privacy." The decision will be appealed, said Orleans Parish First District Attorney Tim McElroy. "This is not about gay rights," McElroy said. "We are doing this as a means of restoring to the victim what small victory she received in court." Smith's lawyer didn't immediately return a telephone message. The decision reversed Smith's conviction and his sentence, a three-year suspended jail term and two years probation. The judges said they examined constitutional cases on sodomy laws in other states, rejecting arguments sodomy is immoral, discourages procreation and leads to short-lived and shallow relationships. "We find that discouraging acts that cannot lead to procreation is not a compelling state interest nor even a constitutionally valid justification for the state's invasion of the right to privacy," the judges wrote. They also cited a 6-1 decision by the Georgia Supreme Court last November striking down that state's sodomy law, also because of privacy rights guaranteed in the state constitution. The decision means there are now 11 states that still ban oral and anal sex between consenting adults. Five other states ban such sex between homosexuals only, Goldberg said. She predicted that the case would be appealed. But it's unclear whether the case would make it to the Louisiana Supreme Court before another challenge to the state's sodomy law. That case involves a lawsuit filed in state court. It raises privacy concerns, but also contends that the sodomy law unfairly targets gays for punishment and legitimizes hatred of homosexuals. Judge Carolyn Gill-Jefferson presided over a four-day trial in October, but has not issued a ruling. Lawyers for the state Attorney General's Office presented one witness, a pyschotherapist who said he "heals" gay men and lesbians. State lawyers were notified about Smith's case before the appeals court and given an opportunity to participate, but didn't, the judges wrote. Supporters of Louisiana's sodomy law said they will consider pushing for a referendum on the issue if the law is struck down by the Louisiana Supreme Court.
07-2000 New Source: U.S. statutory rape laws is published on the Web by the National
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