Last edited: November 15, 2003

Arizona Governor Signs Sodomy Repeal Into Law

Datalounge, May 9, 2001

PHOENIX, AZ — After seven years of failed attempts, Arizona Gov. Jane Hull signed into law a measure stripping several antiquated sexual conduct laws, including unmarried cohabitation and sodomy, from the state’s penal code.

Gov. Hull’s signature on the repeal measure ends weeks of suspense regarding the fate of the bill. The governor had painstakingly avoided giving any indication as to which way she would go on the measure but hinted she had received more than a thousand calls from conservatives urging her to veto the bill.

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

Explaining the governor’s reasons for signing the bill into law, Noyes said, "She listened very carefully to what everybody had to say [and] fundamentally, it came down to government doesn’t belong in people’s lives."

Specifically, the law strips 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" from the state’s penal code.

"The governor and I agree that the state has no compelling interest in the lives of consenting adults," the Associated Press quotes Republican Rep. Steve May, the bill’s chief sponsor in the Arizona House.

In a letter to House Speaker Jim Weiers, Gov. Hull said the sex laws are not enforced and cannot be enforced and that she therefore agreed they should be abolished.

"Keeping archaic laws on the books does not promote high moral standards; instead, it teaches the lesson that laws are made to be broken," she said. "Moral standards are set by families and those they turn to for guidance, such as religious and community leaders. We learn much more from watching their behavior than from any written laws or rules."

May concurred and joined the governor in expressing the hope that, with this question settled, the state could now move on to more pressing matters. "This has been a debate in the Legislature for the last 20 years," May said. "This ends the debate. Anybody who tries to proactively put [these laws] back onto the books will be laughed out of office."

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