Last edited: November 15, 2003

Senate Approves Repeal of Sex Laws

Arizona Republic, May 1, 2001
Box 1950, Phoenix, AZ 85001
Fax: 602-271-8933

By Beth DeFalco

Seven years after lawmakers first tried to repeal the state’s century-old sex laws, the Legislature on Monday approved taking the laws off the books.

With an 18-11 vote, the Senate gave the final OK to send House Bill 2016 to the governor.

"Lawmakers have finally recognized the inappropriateness of the government regulating behavior between consenting adults," said Kathie Gummere, a lobbyist for the Arizona Human Rights Fund, a group that supported the bill.

But the bill’s fate on the governor’s desk is unclear.

Francie Noyes, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jane Hull, said Hull has received more calls regarding archaic sex laws than any other issue this session: 933, all urging Hull to veto the bill.

No callers have supported it, Noyes said.

By comparison, the next highest number of calls was 89, from callers urging Hull to sign a bill to allow religious clubs to meet at schools.

Hull is not committing to what she’ll do.

"The governor keeps her own counsel on these things, and she hasn’t told anybody yet what she plans to do," Noyes said.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Steve May, R-Paradise Valley, repeals laws that make cohabitation, sodomy and any non-procreational sex acts illegal.

The bill deletes clauses that list "open and notorious cohabitation," the "infamous crime against nature" and any "lewd or lascivious act . . . with the intent of arousing, appealing to or gratifying the lust, passion or sexual desires" as illegal.

The misdemeanors punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Under the new law, adultery would remain a crime.

Critics called the bill an attack on the traditional family and immoral.

Sen. Scott Bundgaard, R-Glendale, voted against the bill, saying that repealing the laws would be akin to "normalizing the acts."

May said the laws are ambiguous and used as a discriminatory tool and keep unmarried couples from getting a tax break.

The state Senate gave the final OK Monday to send House Bill 2016 to the governor for her signature. Among other things, it repeals laws outlawing cohabitation and sodomy. The vote was 18-11. How they voted:

Voted against the repeal: Dean Martin, Linda Aguirre, David Petersen, Pete Rios, Tom Smith, Timothy S. Bee, Ken Bennett, Russell Bowers, Jack A. Brown, Scott Bundgaard, Brenda Burns

Voted for the repeal: Jay Blanchard, Edward J. Cirillo, Chris Cummiskey, Lori S. Daniels, Susan Gerard, Herb Guenther, Mary Hartley, Toni Hellon, Jack C. Jackson, Joe Eddie Lopez, Harry E. Mitchell, Marsha Arzberger, Elaine Richardson, Ruth Solomon, Ramon O. Valadez, John Verkamp, Virginia Yrun, Randall Gnant

Did not vote: Darden C. Hamilton

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