In a defeat for gay-rights activists, the state Supreme Court refused Thursday to strike down Louisiana's nearly 200-year-old ban on sodomy. 

The high court said the law does not violate the privacy right spelled out in the state's constitution. Thursday's ruling came in a civil lawsuit filed by the Louisiana Electorate of Gays and Lesbians Inc. The court issued much the same opinion in 2000 in a criminal case. 

John Rawls, attorney for the gay rights group and a plaintiff in the case, lamented the ruling, and noted the law applies to heterosexuals, too. 

"The Supreme Court of Louisiana has said the government can go into anyone's bedroom, including married persons, and criminalize what they are doing, even between consenting adults in private with no one watching and nobody paying for anything," he said. 

Attorney General Richard Ieyoub was not in his office Thursday evening when called for comment. 

State Rep. Tony Perkins led a successful fight against a bill to change the law last year. "The Legislature has continually upheld this statute. ... I think it's appropriate that the court recognize that the Legislature has a right to do that." 

The suit also attacked the law on other grounds, including claims it discriminates against homosexuals. The high court refused to rule on those issues Thursday, meaning they remain alive before the state 4th Circuit Court of Appeal in a separate action.