Louisiana’s state senate has approved a bill explicitly banning sex with animals by 25 votes to 10.
The bill, which now goes to the House of Representatives, would make sexual abuse of an animal illegal; require an abused animal to be taken from its abuser; and bar those convicted from owning any pets in future.
A law covering “crimes against nature” – which includes bestiality – exists on the books, but was ruled unconstitutional in 2003 by the Supreme Court because it also included anal sex between consenting adults.
The state senator who wrote and sponsored the bill, JP Morrell, said it was written to better define bestiality and make it illegal under an enforceable law.
The current law, which Mr Morrell says is far too ambiguous, defines bestiality as “carnal copulation with an animal”.
The new bill, titled SB236, states any person who engages in “sexual contact with an animal”, or knowingly participates in an animal being sexually abused, will be charged.
Ahead of the vote, Mr Morrell told lawmakers: “God forbid you vote against this bill, good luck explaining it.”
The 10 senators – all Republican – who voted against the bill were senate president John Alario, Brett Allain, Dan Claitor, Jack Donahue, Jim Fannin, Ryan Gatti, Gerald Long, Beth Mizell, Jonathan Perry and Neil Riser.
Gene Mills, president of the conservative Louisiana Family Forum, perhaps gave an indication of the reason for Republican opposition to the bill.
“We believe (current) Louisiana law is instructional in nature and is written to reflect the values of the citizens of the state,” he said. “The last thing we need is another law on the books.”
Mr Mills told The Times-Picayune newspaper if Mr Morrell’s intention was to ultimately strike the state’s anti-sodomy laws from the constitution, the Louisiana Family Forum would oppose it.