Last edited: November 15, 2003

Arizona Sodomy Repeal Gets Initial OK

PlanetOut, 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 Representatives.

Arizona’s House of Representatives gave preliminary approval on Wednesday to a bill that would repeal Arizona’s 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 bedrooms.

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 repeal.

"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. Jane Hull.

[Home] [News] [Arizona]