Controversial sex bill loses

Brian Close

Four representatives in the Minnesota Legislature withdrew their names last week from a controversial bill to legalize a variety of sexual acts, including prostitution, adultery, sodomy and bestiality.
Phyllis Kahn, a Democrat who represents the University area, authored the legislation, which would have removed penalties for many sex acts the authors consider consensual and victimless.
However, all four co-authors removed their names from the bill last Tuesday and Kahn is reportedly planning to withdraw the bill, but is currently out of the country.
The legislators said they felt pressure from several groups, including the Minnesota Family Council. Tom Prichard, president of the conservative advocacy group, said although the practices may be private they have public consequences.
“We think these activities are demonstrably negative to society, and should continue to have sanctions on them,” he said. He said that sodomy, defined as oral or anal sexual contact, adds to the spread of disease, as does prostitution, adultery and necrophilia.
But Dave Dorman, a health educator at Boynton Health Service, said that anal sex, while carrying more risk than vaginal sex, is fairly comparable.
The Web site, safersex.org, confirmed Dorman. It placed unprotected anal sex just above unprotected vaginal sex in terms of the risk of a sexually transmitted disease.
Matthew Brauer, a sophomore involved with the Queer Student Cultural Center, said he feels no sex act between consenting adults should be criminal, but added the importance of being safe.
“I think the original intent of sodomy laws was an attempt to regulate sexual behavior, but they have turned into a de facto discrimination against queer people,” he said.
Rep. Lee Greenfield, DFL-Minneapolis, who co-authored the bill, said he and the others removed their names because of the confusion regarding their intentions. He said some of the co-authors didn’t know the bill would legalize prostitution — assuming the prostitute is an adult.
Greenfield said legislators will likely rewrite the bill into a more clear version, with more limited topics.
“I think (these laws) are archaic, and don’t belong in our laws,” he said. “They are not normally enforced, and I think that’s a perfect reason to get rid of them.”
But Prichard said whether the laws are enforced may not be the issue. He said he and the council have moral objections to the behaviors, and they feel the law sends a message to would-be practitioners.
“The law serves the purpose of stating what is right and wrong behavior in society,” he said. Even if these laws are not enforced, he added, they serve as a societal statement of what is appropriate behavior.
Greenfield opposed that logic and said it isn’t the government’s job to control people when there is no victim.
“I don’t want police in my bedroom,” he said.