Last edited: December 18, 2004

Hull Signs Repeal of Archaic Sex Laws

The Arizona Republic, May 8, 2001
P.O. Box 2244, Phoenix, AZ 85002
Tel: 602-444-8499
Fax: 602-444-8933

By Beth DeFalco

Gov. Jane Hull today resisted the urgings of thousands of callers and signed into law a bill that repeals the state’s laws against sodomy, oral sex and cohabitation.

By signing House Bill 2016, Hull also gives heterosexual couples the ability to claim a live-in partner as a dependent under certain circumstances.

"Keeping archaic laws on the books does not promote high moral standards; instead it teaches the lesson that laws are made to be broken," Hull wrote in a one-page letter explaining her decision.

The repeal idea had become the lightning rod issue of this year’s legislative session, sparking more than 5,600 calls and letters to her office from Arizonans urging her to veto the bill. In comparison, she had about 1,800 requests to sign it.

Adultery remains a crime under the bill.

Drafted in 1901 when Arizona was still a territory, citizens who commit "lewd and lascivious acts," "open and notorious cohabitation" and "the infamous crime against nature" could have been subject to a misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Because cohabitation was illegal, heterosexual couples living together could not claim one another as a dependent on state or federal tax forms, prompting the sponsor of the bill, Republican Rep. Steve May, to call it the "Equity Act of 2001."

The law officially goes into effect 90 days after the end of the session, which is expected to wrap up this week. For tax purposes, the deduction can be taken if one partner receives more than half of his or her financial support from the other during 2001.

"We’re disappointed and surprised. The governor appeared to be listening to the grassroots opposition to the bill," said Cathi Herrod, a lobbyist for the Center for Arizona Policy, a faith-based organization. "Those laws set a standard that favored marital relations over cohabitation and same-sex relationships in our state."

Eleven other states still have laws against certain sex acts, according to Kathie Gummere, a lobbyist for the Arizona Human Rights Fund, which supported the bill.

[Home] [News] [Arizona]