It’s been widely and wrongly reported in recent days that Michigan passed a law making oral and/or anal sex illegal. A better way to put it: existing language making oral and anal sex illegal might stay on the books, because nobody wants to fight about it, because it would get messy.
The story has exploded in the last two days into a myth of Internet-epic proportions, but the actual facts of what happened are a pretty good stand-in for the Overall Dysfunctional State of the American Political System 2016. Republican Senator Rick Jones is trying to pass what he’s dubbed Logan’s Law, a measure that would prevent someone convicted of animal abuse from owning another animal for five years. (The bill is named after a Siberian husky who died after a home invader threw acid on him.) The bill passed the Senate and is headed to the House.
But Logan’s Law would also apply to anyone convicted of committing bestiality — and in Michigan, the portion of the state penal code dealing with bestiality and the anti-sodomy part are one and the same. (Sodomy being the broad and antiquated term for not just anal sex, but really any sex other than the penis-in-vagina kind.)
The proposed updated version of the law reads like this, emphasis ours:
(1) A person who commits the abominable and detestable crime against nature either with mankind or with any animal is guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 15 years, or if the defendant was a sexually delinquent person at time of the offense, a felony punishable by imprisonment for an indeterminate term, the minimum of which shall be 1 day and the maximum of which shall be life.
Sodomy laws are, of course, unconstitutional and unenforceable, struck down by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003. But Jones told the New Civil Rights Movement that he knew if he tried to get the sodomy portion taken out, it would explode into a fight that would endanger the whole bill:
“But if you focus on it, people just go ballistic,” he said. “If we could put a bill in that said anything that’s unconstitutional be removed from the legal books of Michigan, that’s probably something I could vote for, but am I going to mess up this dog bill that everybody wants? No.”
The New Civil Rights Movement story ran through the Internet echo chamber, and we ended up with a bazillion stories reporting that a measure banning anal sex was “snuck into” a bill about animal abuse and that anal sex-having people face 15 years in prison.
Jones, the bill sponsor, is furious, telling WZZM that a “hoax” has distorted his bill. Meanwhile, Equality Michigan said this morning that they’re hearing the unconstitutional language will be taken out of the version of the bill being introduced in the House, although that hasn’t been confirmed.
Snopes also has an excellent timeline about how this particular Internet myth spun out of control, but the takeaway is that even with the old language still on the books, the oral and anal sex-havers of the Mitten State are probably safe.
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