Louisiana’s LGBT community faced another legislative defeat last week with the termination of a bill that would have repealed the controversial crimes against nature law, sometimes referred to as the anti-sodomy law, but LGBT activists hope the loss will not be a bad omen for other upcoming bills. The next LGBT bill will address combating discrimination in the workforce.
The language of the CAN law was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 because it directly targets gay people. If the repeal had passed, it would have removed this unconstitutional language still in Louisiana books.
Matt Patterson, research and policy coordinator for Equality Louisiana, said he was disappointed with the results of the CAN repeal, considering it was the second time committee members changed their mind and voted against the bill.
Patterson said members of the religious group Louisiana Family Forum made their presence known in the hearing by saying the bill would make it easier for pedophiles to prey on children and get away with it. This argument was a constant theme during the hearing for the group, Patterson said.
The repeal did not receive the support Patterson expected it to from Louisiana law enforcement, specifically the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association, he said. While the group openly expressed its support for the bill, it did not do any lobbying for the bill to reinforce a positive outcome, Patterson said.
Patterson said another reason was the amount of misinformation surrounding meaning of the bill.
“We got hung out to dry by the law enforcement community,” Patterson said. “People were led to believe there were no consequences to saying no [to the repeal].”
Michael Beyer, Spectrum panel coordinator, agreed the misinformation surrounding the bill in addition to it being about a sexual issue skewed the voters in a negative direction.
“I think it’s hard to vote on sex and there were so many different misconceptions going around,” Beyer said.
Beyer said he would argue the legislators did not necessarily represent their constituents accurately in their vote because of the polling information that supports LGBT acceptance across Louisiana.
While the CAN repeal was not successful, Beyer said he is confident the Employment Non-Discrimination Acts, ENDA, bill will be successful. Sponsored by Rep. Karen Gaudet St. Germain, ENDA would “prevent Louisianans from being denied equal opportunity in the workplace because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”
Patterson said the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee will vote on ENDA on Tuesday morning.