Arizona Sodomy Repeal Gets Initial OK
March 15, 2001
By Mark Kerr, Tucson Weekly Observer
SUMMARY: The decriminalization of gay sex in Arizona has inched another
step closer to reality with a favorable vote from the House of
Arizonas House of Representatives gave preliminary approval on Wednesday
to a bill that would repeal Arizonas archaic sex laws.
HB 2016 is the latest attempt to repeal laws that outlaw non-familial
cohabitation and "crimes against nature" including sodomy, oral sex
and non-procreational acts between consenting adults. These laws have been on
the books since 1901, but have rarely been enforced in recent decades.
Sponsored by openly gay Republican Rep. Steve May, HB 2016 would also amend
the definition of "dependent" under the state tax codes. Arizona is
one of twelve states that prevent unmarried heterosexual and same-sex couples
from claiming dependents on their income tax forms. This technicality can
increase their taxes by as much as 30 percent.
During the sometimes contentious debate, Rep. May said the state should not
be regulating what consenting married and unmarried couples do in their own
Opponents of the repeal countered with familiar arguments, citing the need
to protect "the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman" and
the danger of "sending [the] terrible message" that such acts are
okay. Other conservative legislators argued that repeal would promote
bestiality and polygamy.
"The Legislature needs to take a moral stand, because we owe it to our
children," Republican Rep. Russell Pearce said.
After debate, the House Committee of the Whole voted 31-22 to approve the
"Civil heads have prevailed in the Arizona House, and the archaic law
repeal has moved one step closer to reality," openly gay Democratic Rep.
Ken Cheuvront, the House Minority Leader, said.
If the bill is okayed by the full Arizona House of Representatives on
Monday, March 19, it will go to the Arizona Senate for consideration.
Republican Sen. Ed Cirillo, who sponsored the repeal legislation last year,
said he believes he can marshal the necessary 16 votes to send it to the Gov.
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