On Tuesday, the Louisiana state House of Representatives voted to reject a bill that would have removed the state’s ban on certain types of sodomy. The bill failed by a vote of 27-66, with 11 members not voting.
House Bill 12, introduced by state Representative Patricia Smith, would delete from current state statutes “certain provisions of crime against nature held to be unconstitutional; to amend the elements of crime against nature and aggravated crime against nature relative to the repeal of the unconstitutional provision.”
Smith was apparently surprised by her colleagues failure to support her proposal.
"I never thought it would pass, but I thought it would do better," said Smith, as reported in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "Some of the folks who voted to get it out of committee voted against it on the floor."
The vote was applauded by the Louisiana Family Forum, a Christian organization that lobbied hard against the bill, sending a letter to every state lawmaker encouraging them to vote against Smith’s bill.
"Louisiana's anti-sodomy statute is consistent with the values of Louisiana residents who consider this behavior to be dangerous, unhealthy and immoral," the letter read, according to a story in the Times-Picayune.
The article in the Times-Picayune, as well as those published in several other outlets, reported that the action was moot as the state’s anti-sodomy law was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2003.
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court held in the case of Lawrence v. Texas that consensual sex by people of any gender was a part of the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.
“Liberty gives substantial protection to all adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex,” held Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority.
In his dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia described the majority opinion as “a massive disruption of the current social order.”
Regardless of where one comes down on the question of state anti-sodomy laws, the core issue that should concern all constitutionalists is whether the Supreme Court should — and theoretically, does — have any say over the laws of the states.
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Photo: Louisiana state capitol building