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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 12, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 07
Michigan Senate reaffirms unconstitutional sodomy law
Section One
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Michigan Senate reaffirms unconstitutional sodomy law

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Michigan's Senate reaffirmed the state's unconstitutional ban on sodomy on February 4, with a brief passage in a bill prohibiting cruelty to animals.

Known as 'Logan's Law' after a husky who was burned with acid by an abuser, the measure included language forbidding 'the abominable and detestable crime against nature either with mankind or with any animal...'

The passage was already part of Michigan law, and while not explicit, was interpreted as forbidding anal and oral sex between humans, as well as bestiality - practices that were commonly conflated in American law under the general term 'sodomy.'

The bill specifies punishment of up to 15 years in prison for a regular offender and up to life for 'a sexually delinquent person' who commits sodomy.

Another section of Michigan law, passed in 1952, gives the following definition of 'sexually delinquent':

'The term 'sexually delinquent person' when used in this act shall mean any person whose sexual behavior is characterized by repetitive or compulsive acts which indicate a disregard of consequences or the recognized rights of others, or by the use of force upon another person in attempting sex relations of either a heterosexual or homosexual nature, or by the commission of sexual aggressions against children under the age of 16.'

Michigan's law against sodomy has been unenforceable since the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas. In that case, the high court ruled that consensual sexual conduct was part of the liberty protected by the substantive due process clause of the 14th Amendment.

Since Lawrence, only two of the 14 states that had sodomy laws in 2003 have repealed them - Virginia and Montana. The rest remain on the books but can't be enforced by state officials because any convictions would be overturned by federal courts.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Rick Jones, said the intent of his legislation had been distorted by liberal bloggers. The charge that it criminalizes consensual sex among adults is a 'hoax,' he said.

Jones added he was well aware that Michigan's sodomy law was invalid, but he kept the old language because removing it would have stirred up unnecessary controversy.

'The minute I cross that line and I start talking about the other stuff, I won't even get another hearing,' he told the Detroit Free Press.

'It'll be done. Nobody wants to touch it. I would rather not even bring up the topic, because I know what would happen. You'd get both sides screaming and you end up with a big fight that's not needed because it's unconstitutional.'

The measure in likely to pass the Michigan House of Representatives, which is controlled by Republicans like the Senate is, and it will almost certainly be signed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

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