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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana would create a new law against bestiality, untangling the current rule from the unconstitutional ban on sodomy under a proposal headed to the House.

The House criminal justice committee on Wednesday approved a measure to instate a wide-ranging law against bestiality, despite a lawmaker’s request to keep the rule intertwined with the invalidated sodomy law. Louisiana lumps the two laws under a “crime against nature” statute.

Sen. J.P. Morrell said his Senate-backed bill will bring the anti-bestiality law into the modern era with requirements for mental evaluations and penalties for buying and selling animals for sex. But his proposal has run into some unexpected opposition from conservative lawmakers who see it as an underhanded move to strike the ban on sodomy.

Rep. Valarie Hodges was the only lawmaker to raise concerns about Morrell’s bill Wednesday. She said the proposal was too broad and argued that a provision barring someone from living or working with animals if they’re convicted under the measure could trigger a court challenge.

“What about the person who gets out of jail that has no place to go because their parents have a parakeet,” she asked.

Morrell, citing a similar rule that would bar someone convicted of child molestation from working with children, responded cheekily.

“Their parents have to pick between the parakeet and their kid,” he said, as laughter filled the room.

Hodges then attempted to change the bill, proposing an amendment to leave the current four-word bestiality law in the same section as the law against sodomy. Her proposal failed.

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. Despite that ruling, Louisiana’s existing law remains on the books.

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.

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 urging states to update their laws.

Three states, including Louisiana, have similar proposals before their legislatures.


Senate Bill 236: