Last edited: November 15, 2003

Arizona Repeals Sodomy Laws / Network, May 9, 2001

By Barbara Dozeots

SUMMARY: Calling the statutes "unenforced and unenforceable," Arizona’s governor signed into law a bill repealing the state’s ban on cohabitation, oral sex and sodomy.

Arizona Gov. Jane Hull surprised many of her constituents this week by signing into law a bill that repeals the state’s ban on cohabitation, oral sex and sodomy.

In spite of heavy lobbying by conservative groups asking her to veto the measure approved by the state’s legislature last week, Hull, a Republican, said, "At the end of the day, I returned to one of my most basic beliefs about government: It does not belong in our private lives." Her comments came in a letter explaining her decision to the Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives.

The law being repealed set out a maximum of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for the misdemeanor crimes of unmarried men and women living together; sodomy — including oral sex; and any sex act not intended for procreation.

"The laws that are repealed by HB 2016 are unenforced and unenforceable," Hull wrote. "Keeping archaic laws on the books does not promote high moral standards; instead, it teaches the lesson that laws are made to be broken."

Conservatives are considering a move to take the issue to the polls in a referendum, but doing so would require gathering 80,000 signatures in 90 days at an estimated cost of $150,000, Republican Sen. David Peterson told the Arizona Republic. "The question is if there is enough fire in the belly," he said.

Any legislator moving to reinstate the law would be "laughed out of office," said Rep. Steve May, the repeal bill’s sponsor and a gay Republican. "Let them go to the ballot, and we’ll watch them waste all their money," May told the Republic.

According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 17 states still have sodomy laws on the books.

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