Michigan Just Made Sodomy a Felony Offense-Mostly Fiction!

Michigan Just Made Sodomy a Felony Offense-Mostly Fiction!

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Summary of eRumor:
Social media has been abuzz with reports that new animal cruelty laws make sodomy a crime in Michigan.
The Truth:
Reports that Michigan “just” made sodomy a felony are false.
But there is a kernel truth hidden in the rumor. The Michigan State Senate updated a section of penal code on animal cruelty in January. An old, unenforceable provision making sodomy a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison was left intact.
Section 158 of the law, which has been on the books since 1931, states that:

Because the provision was left in the amended penal code, rumors quickly spread across social media sites that Michigan had “just” made sodomy illegal. While it’s understandable for some to draw that conclusion based on the information provided, it’s false.
First, Michigan’s animal cruelty law (and the part that allegedly made sodomy a crime) have been on the books since the 1930s. Second, a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling made in unconstitutional for states to enforce such laws.
The Supreme Court found that a Texas law criminalizing gay sex amounted to an unconstitutional violation of privacy. The high court struck it, and all similar laws across the country, down. In the court’s ruling, Justice Kennedy wrote, “The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.”
By 2014, however, 12 states still had anti-sodomy laws on the books: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
In 2011, police in Louisiana arrested gay men for “attempted crimes against nature using the anti-sodomy law in a sting operation that caused a national outcry,” USA Today reports. In that case, however, the district attorney called the statute “unenforceable” and refused to bring charges.
When it comes to Michigan’s law, it seems the provision was left in place to avoid public debate on the provision. State Sen. Rick Jones, the author of the state’s animal cruelty bill, explained that the the anti-sodomy statute was left in place because he wanted the law to pass, and he wanted to avoid the controversy that would have resulted:

“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. 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.

But if you focus on it, people just go ballistic. 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.”

So, it’s true that an old, outdated anti-sodomy law was left on the books when Michigan’s animal cruelty statutes were updated. But reports that Michigan has passed a “new” anti-sodomy law, or plans to enforce the old law, are false.