Last edited: December 18, 2004


Hull Should Let Herself Go and Do Right Thing

Arizona Republic, May 8, 2001
Box 1950, Phoenix, AZ 85001
Fax: 602-271-8933

By E. J. Montini

The bill landed on the governor’s desk a week ago, and she could have signed it or vetoed it right then and there. Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am. But that’s not Jane Dee Hull’s style.

She prefers to take her time. Her colleagues in the state Legislature would rather skip dinner and get right to dessert, if you know what I mean. They have their desires and want the governor to sign off on them. That might work with some politicians but not Hull. You’d think they’d know by now she’s not that kind of governor.

She likes to talk things over first. Or at least listen.

And so for the past seven days roughly 2,000 of Hull’s closest constituents have cozied up to her, whispering (and sometimes shouting) not-so-sweet nothings into her ear concerning House Bill 2016.

The legislation would repeal three sex-related laws that have been on the books for generations but not enforced. Right now, for example, it is a Class 3 misdemeanor in Arizona to live in a state of "open and notorious cohabitation."

Likewise, it’s illegal to commit "in any unnatural manner, any lewd or lascivious act upon or with the body or any part of or member thereof of a male or female adult, with the intent of arousing, appealing to or gratifying the lust, passion or sexual desires of either or such person."

And finally a person is guilty of a misdemeanor if he "knowingly and without force commits the infamous crime against nature."

We didn’t speak of such things in the small, somewhat-repressed Pennsylvania mill town where I grew up. If anyone had asked us to define "the infamous crime against nature," we probably would have answered, "Voting Republican?"

Since moving to Arizona, I’ve learned that’s not the case.

Republican State Rep. Steve May sponsored HB 2016.

"It’s past time to get these archaic ideas off the books," he said Monday. "It’s true they’re not enforced for the most part. But they are still used in ways to discriminate against gay and lesbian citizens."

For instance, he said, a person applying for a job could be asked if he or she is knowingly violating any existing criminal statute. "If you know about these laws," May said, "you have to answer yes. That could keep you from getting work."

According to Hull’s press secretary, Francie Noyes, the governor has not told her staff exactly what she plans to do with HB 2016.

She has until the end of today to sign it, veto it or simply ignore it, allowing the law to go into effect without her signature. The bill doesn’t deal with adultery, which remains on the books as a crime.

Hull has received more citizen input on this legislation than any issue this session, Noyes said.

More than tax cuts or education spending or health care.

This infamous crime against common sense has been encouraged by some of the state’s most conservative politicians. They want to keep the arcane laws on the books, enforced or not. Some even want to see the laws expanded.

Hull knows how ridiculous that is and can afford to say so. Term limits prevent her from running again for governor. She’s got nothing to lose. Unlike just about every other elected official, she can afford to be bold, honest and unafraid. She can let herself go and actually do the right thing.

When you’re a lame duck, you don’t have to worry if voters will still respect you in the morning.

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