Family Forum, LGBT advocates spar ahead of council vote

Today at 4 p.m. the Metro Council is expected to vote on a resolution to show support for Baton Rouge State Rep. Patricia Smith’s proposed bill to delete anti-sodomy laws from the state statutes.

The laws were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003. But in recent years the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office was arresting gay men in public parks for agreeing to consensual sex, citing the outdated statute.

Metro Council members say they’ve received about 100 emails so far from residents both in favor and against the resolution.

The resolution to support Smith’s House Bill 12 is being sponsored by Councilmen John Delgado and Ryan Heck.

The Louisiana Family Forum sent out an email titled “EBR Council Takes Up Sodomy Again!” The “family values” group is calling on people to call, write and attend the Metro Council meeting to express their opposition to the resolution.

” Basically, Rep. Smith and Council Members Delgado and Heck are seeking to repeal one of Louisiana’s last remaining legal prohibitions of public homosexual activity.  Given the public health and cultural ramifications  of such a repeal, it is important that all Baton Rouge residents take this opportunity to let their voice be heard on this issue.”

They link to an article by the Family Research Council titled, “The Negative Health Effects of Homosexuality.”

Equality Louisiana, a LGBT advocacy group, quickly reponded in a statement calling the Louisiana Family Forum a “statewide hate group.”

The statement clarified that public sexual activity is banned by a different statute and will not be affected by Smith’s proposed bill.

“Mr. (Gene) Mills, (president of the Family Forum) is well aware of the Supreme Court’s ruling that these laws infringe upon the due process rights of all citizens. An organization to defending freedom should support the removal of unconstitutional laws from the books, rather than attempting to deceive citizens and elected officials about their true nature,” said Matthew Peterson, an Equality Louisiana coordinator, in a statement.

The Metro Council’s resolution is nonbinding and a symbolic gesture of support. Only the state legislature has the authority to remove the anti-sodomy laws.