Today many people in the blogosphere panicked over news of Senate Bill 219 sponsored by Senator Rick Jones(R) passing in the Michigan Senate with intentions to prevent people with previously convicted charges of animal sexual assault from adopting pets. However, language in the already passed bill contains innuendoes of enforcing anti-sodomy laws already voted unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2003.
Representative Jon Hoadley(D) said he did not feel it was anyone’s intentions to create harsher penalties for an already unconstitutional part of the law.
“All those headlines that say ‘Michigan bans Oral sex,’ those are not true in the sense that it was already technically illegal and banned here in Michigan, except the laws are unenforceable because they’re unconstitutional. Now the Senate got an opportunity to take out and clean up that outdated, unconstitutional language, which they should have done. So we’re going to see if we can do that on the House side,” Hoadley said. “So we can both protect the animals, and get rid of the outdated, unconstitutional language.”
The language Hoadley is talking about is apart of Section 158 of the bill which partially reads: “…the abominable and detestable crime against nature either with mankind or with any animal…” which could be interpreted, and have been interpreted by many people, as an underhanded way of making sodomous acts illegal in Michigan.
“Depending on certain readings of the bill, this could criminalize some sexual behavior under very specific scenarios,” said Hoadley.
Hoadley said an example of that could be a way of harassing LGBT members.
“Just because the charges would be thrown out, doesn’t prevent someone who has particular hostility or vendetta against LGBT folks, from charging or threatening to charge someone with a sodomy charge just for the purpose of hating someone,” he said. “It would just be a harassment tactic. So we should take that out of the hands of someone who is wishing harm to somebody who is just withholding the law.”
Hoadley said there was a simple solution to the problem of the unconstitutional language, but never happened due to hostility in discussing LGBT issues.
“All we had to do was strike the bad language in the bill to protect animals. Strike the outdated, unconstitutional language, and you have a good bill. You hear from the sponsors that sort of discussion could have derailed a good bill,” Hoadley said. “And I really think that speaks to the hostility that still exists in the legislative process towards LGBT issues.”
Hoadley said that he feels the legislature in Michigan can do “two things at once” but feels this bill is an example of the Senate not having their priorities straight.
“With the water crisis in Flint being so pressing, and there’s still so many questions that we haven’t even thought of, that should be taking top priority,” he said. “These sort of bills, that have these other sort of unintended side effects, just show us the public wants us to deal with the Flint crisis. So, let’s keep our eyes on actually solving the state mandate crisis now.”
- My name is Abigail Stark. I am a sophomore and a first year staff member. I enjoy writing opinion and review articles, and look forward to a successful year!