sodomy ban

Although banning sodomy has been deemed unconstitutional across the country, Michigan's new anti-sodomy law still poses a threat to the LGBT community

It has been 13 years since the United States Supreme Court essentially declared every statewide sodomy ban as being unconstitutional. However, at least 12 states still maintain the archaic laws on their books as a way to remind the LGBT community “you are still not equal here.”

And in the case of some overzealous cops in Louisiana to badger, arrest, and embarrass men; All while claiming they, the cops charged with enforcing the law, didn’t know the law. Here in Michigan, one crafty little Republican representative found a way to reaffirm a sodomy ban and dup every single democrat into following suit.

Michigan is in the national news every single day for all of the wrong reasons lately. The Flint Water Crisis, a three year disaster brought on by the seemingly negligent actions of Governor Rick Snyder (R), continues to rage. This disaster should be the focus of every elected official right now.

However, Rick Jones (R), while racking his narrow, little brain for answers to the Flint crisis came up with the only way he knew of to help: Reaffirm Michigan’s ban on Sodomy and cloak it in a bill preventing animal ownership by convicted animal abusers.

The bill sponsored by Jones, was deemed “Logan’s Law” after the husky that was tortured and killed with acid, was introduced in 2015 and had bipartisan support. On its face, the bill seems innocent enough and hard not to support: Who doesn’t want to protect animals? But the bill amends a sentencing provision pulled from existing state law which bans sodomy.

The language in question reads:

(1) Any A person who shall commit commits the abominable and detestable crime against nature either with mankind or with any animal shall be is guilty of a felony , punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 15 years, or if such person the defendant was a sexually delinquent person at the time of the said offense, a sexually delinquent person, may be a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for an indeterminate term, the minimum of which shall be 1 day and the maximum of which shall be life.

The editing, done by legislators, is presumably to make the bill easier to read. Because when dealing with laws; words matter. A bill is painstakingly edited to make sure it is clear and concise. The words “with mankind” are what draws sodomy into this bill, even though it appears to be irrelevant to the bill. That too could have been struck from the bill, but it wasn’t.

Internet blogs soon picked up on the bill with headlines like Michigan Senate Passes Bill Saying Sodomy Is A Felony Punishable By 15 Years In Prison. Which is true in part. However, the ban on sodomy in Michigan isn’t new it’s just unconstitutional. This internet furry was met with pushback from the mainstream media.

Soon, MLive responded with an article declaring, Anal Sex not banned in Michigan despite what you’ve heard. Which is also true, in part. The author went straight to the bill’s sponsor to ferret out the truth, because Michigan politicians are so trustworthy these days.

Jones responded to questions about the bill’s intent by crying “Outrageous! Totally false!” He continued, “Many of these old laws are not removed, left on the books and are meaningless. Judges and attorneys know they are meaningless. The police know you can’t enforce a ban on consensual adult sodomy.” Seems harmless, right? Lawmaker and the bill’s sponsor said it means nothing; countless mainstream media sources confirm it means nothing. Move on and stop overreacting!

Except, in 2013 the East Baton Rouge police department was called out for using anti-sodomy laws to arrest at least 12 men over a two-year period. When called out on the practice their response was, as Time magazine put it, “Oops, our bad. But it was on the books!” The stings targeted gay men in a park by undercover officers. Once agreeing to have sex in a private residence (no money was ever exchanged) the men were arrested.

But back to Michigan, where everyone agrees the sodomy reference means nothing. Even though the bill has been painstakingly edited no one wanted to touch those two little words “with mankind.” Because they mean nothing and at the same time mean everything. For the religious right leaving them on the books means reelection and making a statement about inequality. For the LGBT community striking them means dignity and living without fear of arrest.

Jones can protest all he wants and the democrats can jump up and down saying that they had no choice in the matter. Maybe taken alone this wouldn’t mean much. However, the legislative analyst is clear under the heading Sodomy:

The Code prohibits a person from committing sodomy with a human or with any animal, and prescribes a felony penalty for the violation.

Under the bill, as part of the sentence for a sodomy violation, the court would be required to order the convicted person, as a condition of probation, not to own or possess an animal for a period of at least five years after the date of sentencing or the date of release from incarceration, whichever was later, and could order permanent relinquishment of animal ownership.

Oh, later last week, Jones also decided to dust off another law deemed unconstitutional. The law prohibited booze and fully nude dancers. According to Out Post: “The practice has long been prohibited in Michigan, but a 2007 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturned that ban. It went largely overlooked until a few years ago, when Lansing gay bar Spiral took advantage of it for a special event.” But Jones just wanted to “protect women and didn’t want Michigan to become Windsor.” Because “it’s Pure Michigan, after all.”

So, “I have no agenda” Jones targets two unconstitutional laws just by chance. Seems purely random. I believe him. How about you?  Words matter and laws on the books are never harmless.

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Wendy Cooper is an attorney in Michigan. She also writes for The Epoch Times and has written articles for the American Bar Association Health Care section and the Ann Arbor News. She can be reached at her Facebook page or on Twitter @WendyBCooper

3 COMMENTS

  1. Texas, the home of Lawrence, still leaves anti-sodomy laws in the Texas Penal Code despite the TPC being amended every two years when the Lege meets. They intentionally removed the anti-beastiality statute after Lawrence was issued, just to flip the bird at SCOTUS and the gay community.

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