Last edited: November 15, 2003

Junior High Kids Get Short Course in State’s Archaic Sex Laws (excerpted)

Arizona Republic, March 18, 2001
Box 1950, Phoenix, AZ 85001
Fax: 602-271-8933

If Arizona lawmakers oppose sex education in schools, then kids will just have to troop down to the Capitol if they want to learn about the birds and the bees.

The freewheeling House debate this week over the potential repeal of Arizona’s archaic sex laws — decades-old prohibitions against sodomy, oral sex and cohabitation — contained some of the graphic highlights and lowlights of the session. And a troop of junior high girls from SS. Simon and Jude Catholic School got to see most of it.

There was Rep. Steve May’s recounting of archaic sex laws in action, a 1944 police raid on a house where officers entered "because they heard the crime of fellatio being committed from outside." There was no indication whether it was detected by specially trained police dogs, or was just really loud.

When Green Valley Republican Randy Graf, a clearly embarrassed archaic law defender, suggested authorities take a "don’t ask, don’t tell" approach to enforcement, a piercing "Oh, God!" came from across the room. The culprit was the openly gay May, R-Paradise Valley, who recently battled the Army over its "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy on homosexuals.

And it wouldn’t have been a sex laws debate without Rep. Karen Johnson, R-Mesa, pitching in. She wants to send the message that the Legislature doesn’t condone sodomy, oral sex or other crimes against nature. But when challenged over criticism of other message-sending bills, she insisted "these are not feel-good laws."

If these aren’t feel-good laws, it would be hard to find any that are. . .

. . .I don’t get mad, I get mad and even... That would seem to be Rep. Jeff Hatch-Miller’s motto these days. A move by some of his fellow House members to, in his words, "advance their gay agenda" has got him in a vengeful finger-wagging tizzy.

When Hatch-Miller’s bill to outlaw a loophole in child pornography laws was amended to add the repeal of the state’s archaic sex laws, he vowed to get back. (Yes, those pesky archaic sex laws again).

The not-so-brotherly amendment, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Bill Brotherton, would have listed Hatch-Miller, R-Paradise Valley, as the sponsor of the bill repealing a law that prohibits such acts as sodomy, oral sex and living together out of wedlock.

Hatch-Miller, who voted against his own bill after the amendment passed, has since threatened to kill any bill sponsored by a gay legislator (there are three in the House), according to Brotherton. Of course Brotherton’s bills were targeted as well. Hatch-Miller even went so far as to try to have Brotherton’s bill to allow police to stop people solely for not wearing their seat belt killed in committee by begging the chairman not to hear it. She did, and it passed, showing that the tactics that flourished under former Speaker Jeff Groscost may be falling out of vogue.

"Unless your name ends with Weiers, Gnant, or (Gov. Jane) Hull, a promise to single-handedly kill bills is in vain," Brotherton retorted.

  • Compiled by political reporters Robbie Sherwood, Chip Scutari, Mike McCloy and Beth DeFalco.

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