Two days ago, we here at Bipartisan Report reported on a new bill in Michigan that, no joke, reaffirmed statewide anti-sodomy laws that have been deemed unconstitutional since 2003. Now the author of the bill has come forth, claiming that his intention was not, in any way, to make any consensual sex acts among humans into a criminal offense.
Apparently the bill, as part of a much larger and nobler effort known as Logan’s Law, was designed to institute stricter punishments for those who engaged in bestiality and other horrible offenses against animals. Sounds pretty awesome actually! We all hate animal abuse right?
Well this is where it gets tricky. Why, might you ask, did the bill need to invoke such an archaic notion of “crimes against nature”–involving a variety of non-vaginal sexual practices, including anal and oral sex–in order to accomplish this? The part of the bill referring to this, Section 158, states the following:
“A person who commits the abominable and detestable crime against nature with mankind or with any animal is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for no more than 15 years.”
Now, you might think it perfectly acceptable to just cut out that bit about “crime against nature with mankind”, pour the whiskey, and call it a day, correct? Well the bill’s author, Michigan state senator Rick Jones (R), is here to tell you that this would basically poison the bill. What is weird about this whole affair though is that, technically, he is not entirely wrong, but his logic is still remarkably lazy.
I know it’s strange, but I’ll let the author explain himself further:
“In order to write that law, we had to go into a section of law, the bestiality section, which has sodomy in it and has been there forever. It has nothing to do with it.”
Michigan, like a few other states, has preexisting anti-sodomy laws on their books, making sodomy illegal at the level of their state government. In 2003 however, the U.S Supreme Court declared these laws unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas, overturning the state’s power to enforce them. Jones relied on this to negate any language he “had” to use regarding “crimes against nature with mankind.”
But what happened to the old laws after this ruling? Were they scrapped entirely? Not at all. Although the states lack any authority to enforce them, many anti-sodomy laws awkwardly remain on the books, with many state legislators not even bothering to do the formal work in repealing them. This means that yes, technically some states actually have to work around them if they get in the way of any new legislation. It remains unclear, however, why Jones did not simply use the occasion to try and formally repeal the old law.
In the case of Michigan though, the statute for a “crime against nature or sodomy” specifically links sodomy and bestiality in the same offense. Is it a disgusting relic from a bygone, intolerant era? Of course it is. But seeing as no formal work has yet to be done in separating the two, the state of Michigan still recognizes sodomy as a “crime against nature.” Senator Jones, who operates on the state-level, simply felt he had to work with this pre-existing statute in order to draft this new piece of legislation, which is specifically targeted at bestiality and other animal abuses on the grounds that they are “crimes against nature.” Again, it’s still unclear as to why he didn’t use the occasion to try and formally repeal the old law, separating sodomy from bestiality.
The residents of Michigan can still rest assured, however, that they are free to consensually engage in oral and anal sex whenever they want, without the fear of being tried for a felony offense. The supreme court gave them this right in 2003 by invalidating these god awful laws, so do they can do the deed however they please.
It might be helpful, however, if somebody got the ball rolling on formally repealing it at the state level, so they don’t have to go through this embarrassing ordeal ever again. Otherwise, it’s kind of a pain in the ass.