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Michigan Senate Approves Anti-Animal Cruelty Bill Containing Unconstitutional Sodomy Ban

Michigan's state Senate voted 37-1 in favor of Logan's Law. (Photo: Michigan Municipal League/Flickr Creative Commons)

Michigan’s state Senate voted 37-1 in favor of Logan’s Law. (Photo: Michigan Municipal League/Flickr Creative Commons)

UPDATE: The New Civil Rights Movement reports that “the Michigan House will remove language from a bill that reaffirms the state’s unconstitutional sodomy ban, according to Equality Michigan. The language, which states sodomy is illegal, was kept intact in a bill designed to protect animals against abuse.”

A Michigan bill meant to protect animals from cruelty is raising eyebrows and ire due to language affirming the state’s unconstitutional ban on sodomy, a prohibition carrying unenforceable penalties ranging from up to 15 years to life imprisonment.

Logan’s Law, named after a Siberian Husky who died six months after an attacker poured battery acid on his snout, was approved in the state Senate by a vote of 37-1. The passage of the measure, which enjoyed almost universal support among Michiganders, would have been uncontroversial were it not for language affirming the state’s existing—yet unconstitutional—sodomy ban left intact by Republican state Sen. Rick Jones.

Section 158 of Michigan SB 219 states that:

A person who commits the abominable and detestable crime against nature either with mankind or with any animal is guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 15 years, or if the defendant was a sexually delinquent person at the time of the offense, a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for an indeterminate term, the minimum of which shall be one day and the maximum of which shall be life.

SB 219 will likely now head to the state House of Representatives for consideration. When asked by The New Civil Rights Movements whether this would be a good time to amend the measure to remove the unconstitutional language, Sen. Jones asserted that such an amendment would jeopardize a bill that is universally popular.

“The minute I cross that line and I start talking about the other stuff, I won’t even get another hearing. It’ll be done,” Jones insisted. “Nobody wants to touch it. I would rather not even bring up the topic, because I know what would happen. You’d get both sides screaming and you end up with a big fight that’s not needed because it’s unconstitutional.”

Indeed, the United States Supreme Court ruled in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy laws—which usually ban ‘crimes against nature’ including anal and oral sex—violate the right to privacy and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Jones added that the only way to repeal Michigan’s sodomy ban would be to pass a bill striking all unconstitutional laws from the books.

“But if you focus on it, people just go ballistic,” said Jones. “If we could put a bill in that said anything that’s unconstitutional be removed from the legal books of Michigan, that’s probably something I could vote for, but am I going to mess up this dog bill that everybody wants? No.”

The Advocate notes that just because a law is unconstitutional does not mean that people aren’t still sometimes arrested for violating it. Police in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana were caught unlawfully entrapping and arresting gay men seeking sexual encounters in 2013 under a law prohibiting “unnatural carnal copulation” between consenting adults of the same gender.

Even though Logan’s Law does not single out same-sex individuals for censure, LGBT advocates note that equating homosexual sex with detestable crimes like bestiality and pedophilia is a favorite tactic of prominent conservative political, religious and cultural figures, from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Republican presidential hopefuls Ben Carson and Rick Santorum to celebrity pastor Rick Warren and “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson.

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