Mr. DENTON. Mr. President, I am today submitting a resolution to disapprove the
District of Columbia Council's action in repealing certain aspects of the District's laws
governing illicit sexual activity. I am joined by Senators HELMS, EAST, and HATCH.
Under the District of Columbia Self-Government Act, I believe that the District of
Columbia should have the right to make and abide by its own laws, except in extraordinary
circumstances. In passing bill 4-69, the City Council has created one of those
The District of Columbia should not be in the forefront in further liberalization of
laws regarding sexual behavior. As the Nation's Capital, this city should not be the place
where social experiment are performed, where centuries of legal tradition are thrown out
the window. Rather, this city should be governed by standards which conform with the
long-standing national consensus on these matters.
Recently there have been several episodes involving
illicit sexual activity which have tended to bring disrepute on the city of Washington,
and Capitol Hill in particular. If we do not object to the legalization of such activity,
we will be sending a signal to the American people concerning our own standards of
conductthose of the Congress of the United States. That is a signal which the people
Simply put, the city does not need to look or act any worse in representing this
Nationthis "One Nation Under God"to Americans, or to visitors from
D.C. bill 4-69 would remove criminal sanctions against the practice of sodomy. It would
not view as a crime a teacher's seduction of a 16-year-old student. It would permit
bestiality. In short, the D.C. bill would legalize virtually all consensual sex for those
16 years of age and older.
In addition, it would reduce the maximum penalty for forcible rape from life
imprisonment to 20 years. The time actually served would be an insufficient deterrent to
this most heinous crime. The word "rape" would be removed, reducing the stigma
of the offense and decreasing the chance that a proper sentence would be imposed. The
stark nature of the offense is blurred by a legal euphemism that will confuse juries, and
the reduced maximum sentence will in some cases have the convicted rapist back on the
streets in perhaps 3 to 4 years.
This bill is offensive in many respects, but the changes with regard to rape are
especially offensive to women, and the changes with regard to consent to sexual activity
at age 16 would pose a danger to youngsters.
Finally, I would point out that Federal law does not prohibit these activities which
would be legalized by the bill. Rather, the Federal Government relies on the local
legislative authority, plus the Assimilative Crimes Statute, to set down standards
governing conduct in public buildings in the country's seat of Government. In this sense,
the D.C. Government has become the rulemaking body for the Federal Government which binds
it to a set of standards for conduct.
Mr. President, we are not talking about extending the moral arm of the Government into
the unknown. We are talking about whether to repeal statutes that have been on the books
80 years. To the best of my knowledge, there have not been allegations that enforcement
has been overreaching or overly intrusive. In fact, recent application of the laws suggest
to me that both the Congress and the American people will not support decriminalization of
illicit sexual activity.
I would therefore urge my colleagues to join me in expediting consideration and
adoption of this resolution.