Louisiana finally decriminalizes oral and anal sex

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Thanks to a new bill sponsored by State Senator JP Morrell, Louisiana has officially entered the twenty-first century by decriminalizing the acts of soliciting oral and anal sex, which, according to an archaic statute adopted in 1805 (seven years before Louisiana even achieved statehood), considered those acts felonies, forcing those found guilty to register as sex offenders and to carry driver's licenses and I.D. cards featuring the words "SEX OFFENDER" in bright, orange capital letters.

The problem with these sodomy laws in the Bayou State was that they unjustly targeted sex-workers who were largely female, African-American, gay and transsexual, while white heterosexual streetwalkers were rarely subject to the outmoded law punishing "unnatural carnal copulation." Being busted for "solicitation of crimes against nature" meant greater difficulty in securing housing, employment, treatment and services, as a result of the aforementioned Scarlet Letter-like stigma.

In 2003, the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Lawrence v. Texas struck down a Texas sodomy law and ruled that sexual intimacy in the home is constitutionally protected. But the solicitation provision of Louisiana's Crime Against Nature statute had hitherto been upheld by state courts, because Lawrence only addressed private, noncommercial sex.

So now, in the case of Doe v. Jindal brought about by the Center for Constitutional Rights and nine anonymous plaintiffs, justice has been served. The "anti-nature" crimes will be changed next month from felony to misdemeanor status, meaning that first offenders paying for anything other than vaginal intercourse face up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $500. And it now requires two convictions to be tagged with the sex-offender label.

This may be an unsavory subject, but, considering that almost forty percent of registered sex offenders in Orleans Parish are on the registry due to a Crime Against Nature conviction, it's an important step in the fight against legal discrimination against minorities, especially when it's between consenting adults.