Lawmaker addresses backlash over bestiality bill

Sen. Dan Claitor, D-Baton Rouge (Source: WAFB)
Sen. Dan Claitor, D-Baton Rouge (Source: WAFB)
Cow walking around in field. (Source: WAFB)
Cow walking around in field. (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Social media has been set ablaze this week with judgment, questions, and confusion just days after 10 Louisiana senators seemingly voted against a bill to outlaw sex with animals on Monday.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, aims to create a stand-alone statute making bestiality illegal.

A quick search on Facebook turns up thousands of comments, the reaction to the bestiality bill is unforgiving.

One post, for example, shows one user demanding that the 10 Louisiana legislators who voted against the bill to hand over their search history immediately while another on that same thread adds that there seems to be a lot of animal (expletive) - apparently alluding to an accusation that those lawmakers who voted against it had engaged in such activity.

"That's malicious fun," said Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge. "I don't understand why they would do that. It's unfair to say that anybody voted in favor of bestiality at any point in that discussion."

Among the 10, Claitor wants to be clear that a "no" vote was not condoning sex acts with animals, but rather a disagreement among lawmakers on how best to approach the issue, mostly because he says a version of the law already exists.

"It's interesting news and it causes a conversation but it never has been legal in Louisiana and it's just different approaches to the same question," Claitor added.

Under current Louisiana law, it is illegal to have sex with animals. Violators face up to $2,000 in fines and/or five years in jail. The law is mixed in with unconstitutional crimes against nature provisions - among them sex acts between same-sex partners.

Claitor offered an amendment to the bill Monday to clear up that language, while also striking out the unconstitutional sections, but that was shot down.

He believes more of the conversation should be about that and other unconstitutional laws he has worked to strip away, rather than the fact that he and some other lawmakers voted against what they believe to be a repetitive bill. He calls the whole situation a misunderstanding.

"That's part of the larger problem of when we don't clean up the books for these types of issues. If Mr. Morrell's bill fails, bestiality's still illegal in Louisiana," Claitor explained.

In less than a week, Claitor says his social media has been flooded with hate messages from across the country, but he encourages people to understand that there is often a lot more behind a vote than just a simple yes or no.

"People don't want to understand. They want to to make a decision in 15 seconds or less and politics is more than that," said Claitor.

The bill is now over in the House, where it will go before a committee. If approved there, it must clear the House floor before heading to the governor's desk.

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