Legislative leaders may consider anti-sodomy laws

The chairman of the Louisiana House Criminal Justice committee said Wednesday that the anti-sodomy statute is among about 10 laws that need to be removed from the books.

And the head of Capital Region Legislative Delegation also said Wednesday area lawmakers will meet on Aug. 20 and discuss ways to remove unconstitutional anti-sodomy laws from state statutes.

“I believe from a convenience standpoint for law enforcement officers around the state we should remove it from the books or modify it to be constitutional,” said state Rep. Joe Lopinto, R-Metairie, who chairs the House Committee of Administration of Criminal Justice, which oversees criminal laws. He’s a lawyer and former law enforcement officer.

The anti-sodomy statute is probably one of 10 or so state criminal statutes that have either all or in part been declared unconstitutional but remains on the books, Lopinto said.

In the past, the state Legislature has fixed other laws, such as a disturbing the peace statute at funeral processions, to make it constitutional after an adverse court ruling, Lopinto said. “Any criminal statute out there that’s unconstitutional we need to modify to fall within guidelines suggested by the court or repealed,” he said.

“From my standpoint it has nothing to do with gay rights. It’s more of a convenience for law enforcement,” Lopinto said. “We have not done our job as legislators to fix it.”

“Obviously it is a little bit of a mess,” said state Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, and head of the 28-member Capital Region Legislative Delegation. The group will meet Aug. 20 and discuss ways to discuss the issue.

The meeting stems from news reports that the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office since 2011 has conducted a series of sting operations at Manchac Park in which deputies used an anti-sodomy law based on one that was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gautreaux has apologized for the sting operations.

Carter said House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, wants to go over the issue at the August meeting, and work with East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux on drafting legislation for the 2014 regular legislative session.

Carter said the delegation typically meets about once a month. This one may take place at LSU in connection with a campus tour and other activities.