Opponents Seek to Put Sex-Laws Repeal to Voters
Need 80,000 Signatures in 90 Days
Republic, May 9, 2001
Box 1950, Phoenix, AZ 85001
By Beth DeFalco, The Arizona Republic
Conservative opponents of repealing state sex laws are threatening to put
the issue before voters.
Sen. David Peterson, R-Mesa, said Tuesday that if opponents of the new law
can gather 80,000 signatures in 90 days, they could stall the repeal of the
states ban on sodomy, oral sex and cohabitation until a referendum could be
Peterson estimated the cost of such a campaign at about $150,000.
"The question is if there is enough fire in the belly," he said.
"This sends us down the track that says theres no difference between
marriage or cohabitation. Schools will want to talk more about the gay
lifestyle. The track can lead to San Francisco where health benefits pay for
Gov. Jane Hull signed the bill into law Tuesday afternoon, surprising the
thousands whod called her office urging a veto.
"Keeping archaic laws on the books does not promote high moral
standards; instead it teaches the lesson that laws are made to be
broken," she wrote in a letter explaining her move.
"Moral standards are set by families and those they turn to for
guidance, such as religious and community leaders."
Opponents had been rallied by the Center for Arizona Policy, a faith-based
group that had not heard of Petersons referendum idea Tuesday night.
Among the thousands who e-mailed Hull urging a veto was Mesa resident
"I still believe that a traditional family is made with a husband and
wife, and I dont want to open the door for all people to just start living
together," Sullivan said Tuesday. "But making criminals out of all
married people for having sex is ridiculous. Thats what sex is for, to bond
Sullivan said she would have been in favor of rewriting the laws to better
reflect more traditional family values.
The bills sponsor, Rep. Steve May, R-Paradise Valley, said any
politician who tries to reinstate the laws would be "laughed out of
"Let them go to the ballot, and well watch them waste all their
money," May said.
Specifically, the law lifts prohibitions on:
An unmarried man and woman living together.
Sodomy, including oral sex.
Any sex act not intended for procreation.
The repeals impact on the state budget was estimated to be at least
$435,400 because it would allow one partner of a heterosexual unmarried couple
that lives together to claim the other as a dependent if the dependents
income was low enough.
Violation of the law, first drafted in 1901, was a misdemeanor offense
punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org
or at (602) 444-8404. Republic reporter Chip Scutari contributed to this
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