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Louisiana lawmakers vote to toughen laws against bestiality

May 15, 2018

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana is set to strengthen its law against bestiality, despite some initial fears the proposal was an underhanded ploy to eliminate a state ban on sodomy.

The Senate on Monday sent the bill to the office of the governor, who is expected to sign it into law.

Sen. J.P. Morrell said his measure will bring Louisiana’s anti-bestiality law into the modern era with requirements for mental evaluations and penalties for trafficking animals for sex.

The proposal would separate the state’s bestiality law from the ban on sodomy, leaving some conservative lawmakers to wonder if it was a sly move to get rid of the anti-sodomy law. The anti-sodomy law was ruled unconstitutional but remains on the state’s books.

Sen. Ryan Gatti, who last month was one of 10 senators to vote against the measure on the grounds that it could be used as a “Trojan horse,” said he voted in favor of the measure this time because he was convinced that Morrell wasn’t trying to erase the anti-sodomy law.

On Monday, only one lawmaker, Democratic Sen. John Milkovich, objected to the proposal after saying Senate staff told him the legislation inadvertently deleted some social service protections for children. Morrell said that isn’t true.

Six states have expanded laws on bestiality crimes in the past three years, according to Leighann Lassiter, director of animal-cruelty policy at the Humane Society of the United States, which is lobbying for the rewritten law.

Anti-sodomy laws in Louisiana and other states were invalidated in 2003 by the U.S. Supreme Court. It ruled then that forbidding people of the same sex from certain sexual conduct violated the 14th Amendment.

Morrell has not been shy about his distaste for regulation on what kind of sex is allowed between consenting adults in Louisiana, but he emphasized multiple times that he’s not taking aim at that rule with this proposal.

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Senate Bill 236: www.legis.la.gov

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