Last edited: February 14, 2005

Senate votes to repeal abominable and detestable law

Associated Press, June 2, 1998

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Oral and anal sex soon could be legal in Rhode Island.

The Senate voted 26-17 on Tuesday to repeal the 103-year-old law that forbids ``abominable and detestable crimes against nature.''

The bill, already approved by the House, now goes to Gov. Lincoln Almond, whose spokeswoman said he would not veto it.

Homosexuals claim the law, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, has been used to harass them.

``The government doesn't belong in anyone's bedroom,'' Kate Monteiro of the Rhode Island Alliance for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights said after the vote.

Monteiro urged Almond to sign the bill if he is ``a good Republican who believes in getting government off people's backs.''

Almond understands that the law is outdated, but he hasn't decided whether to sign it or let it become law without his signature, spokeswoman Lisa Pelosi said.

Opponents in the Senate said the law should remain on the books because sodomy is a violation of natural law and Christian doctrine.

``It's a direct perversion of the natural law,'' said Sen. Michael Flynn, R-Glocester.

But the sponsor, Sen. John Roney, D-Providence, argued that the world has changed dramatically since the law was put on the books. Most adults in Rhode Island and every senator has probably broken the law, he said.

Similar laws have been repealed in other states in recent years, and Rhode Island's law has been upheld twice in the last 15 years.

But the law recently was called unconstitutional by Superior Court Judge Frank Williams. He threw out the charge during the trial of Edward McGovern, a former Block Island official who was acquitted of sexual assault.

Efforts to repeal the law have failed over the years, but lawmakers say the criticism by Williams and other judges strengthened the effort this year.

A portion of the law that makes it a felony to have sex ``with any beast'' will remain on the books.

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