A Michigan Law on Sexual Repression or on Animal Cruelty?

Greetings everyone, today is ELECTION Day in New Hampshire, so I will probably comment on that today or tomorrow as it goes down. In the meantime, some of you have been posting this really interesting story about how Michigan, the state and not it’s universities, has passed a law banning non-hetero-normative forms of sexuality. Meaning Michigan opposes homosexuality with it’s new animal cruelty law. For instance, actual news website Huffington Post has jumped into the anti-sodomy law frenzy. I don’t get the uproar, all it would take is reading Michigan Law and previous Court rulings to know the full situation. BUT THE NEWS CANNOT DO THAT, IT CANNOT BE STOPPED, IT MUST SPIN THE STORY AS “Michigan Senate Puts Pet Hamsters Before Gays.”

However, when we examine the Michigan law itself and precedence for why this law is even being considered, we run into a disturbing set of twists. Back in 2008, the Court of Appeals of Michigan ruled that Bestiality is not expressly written in by law, by way of the minor clause, or some other clause in their current laws, and therefore is not an offence that is considered “an abominable and detestable crime against mankind” and therefore the offender of the bestiality crime would not have to register for the Sexual Offenders Registration Act in Michigan. From the case, People v. Haynes:

Our job, however, is to enforce the clear and unambiguous terms of the statute as written. [People v. Gardner, 482 Mich. 41, 50, 59, 753 N.W.2d 78 (2008);  Morey, supra at 330, 603 N.W.2d 250.]   If the Legislature chooses to amend or revise MCL 28.722(e)(ii ) to require an individual to register as a sex offender for violating MCL 750.158 by sexually assaulting an animal, it may.   [Gardner, supra at 59-60, 753 N.W.2d 78.]   But this Court may not make the policy choice to require registration as a sex offender for the type of offense in the instant appeal.

We vacate that part of the trial court’s order requiring defendant to register under the SORA.   We do not retain jurisdiction.

And with that appellate court ruling, we wind up with this new law, where the language has indeed been changed.

Sec. 158. (1) 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 for an indeterminate term, the minimum of which shall be 1 day and the maximum of which shall be life.

(2) AS PART OF THE SENTENCE FOR A VIOLATION OF SUBSECTION (1), THE COURT SHALL, AS A CONDITION OF PROBATION, ORDER THE PERSON CONVICTED NOT TO OWN OR POSSESS AN ANIMAL FOR A PERIOD OF AT LEAST 5 YEARS AFTER THE DATE OF SENTENCING OR THE DATE OF RELEASE FROM INCARCERATION, WHICHEVER IS LATER, AND MAY ORDER PERMANENT RELINQUISHMENT OF ANIMAL OWNERSHIP.

Now you might be wondering how this clause exactly makes committers of bestiality sexual offenders who have to register. Here’s how, the bill makes efforts to equate Sodomy with Bestiality, placing them on equal grounds offense to the general public. While many have rightfully stated that sodomy laws between consenting adults are unconstitutional, this is an active effort to ensure that when Michigan strikes down it’s sodomy law, the bestiality clause still has the effective force to register the actor as a Sexual Offender, and hit them with a prison sentence up to life in prison. Previously, if someone commented an act of sodomy against a minor, the laws in Michigan made that a felony on the ground of the person being a minor, not consenting, incest, blackmail, and a list of other reasons.

However, without the new guarantee of a felony, there was no way to properly ensure that bestiality received a firm punishment. Now SB 219 grants that status of bestiality being a felony. Under the SORA law in Michigan, now that bestiality awards a felony (and sodomy), they can now register those who commit bestiality as SEXUAL OFFENDERS. Prior to this change, bestiality would not give you a felony but could place you in prison for up to 15 years. Now obviously, one might conclude the author could have struck the sodomy clause while adding the felony for bestiality, but here’s the authoring Senator on that:

The minute I cross that line and I start talking about the other stuff, I won’t even get another hearing,” Jones told me. “It’s because nobody wants to touch it. They say the courts have ruled, so walk away from the issue. I would rather not even bring up the topic because I know what would happen, and you’d have both sides just screaming, and you’d end up with a big fight that’s not needed because it’s not constitutional. In my opinion, the only way you’d ever get rid of that particular law you’re talking about is if you had a mass law that dealt with 100 different laws that are unconstitutional, and that just happens to be one of them, but if you focus on it, people just go ballistic, and I know what happens. If we could put a bill in that said everything that’s unconstitutional will 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 everyone wants? No.

That’s right, as long as he keeps that clause in there, the Representatives of the People of Michigan will pass this law to protect animals from all forms of abuse by humans. But the minute he would try to strike the unconstitutional line, he would lose support from possibly all sides of the issue because he dared to touch it. Michigan’s law isn’t purely anti-homosexual though, so don’t by the anti-gay hype. Here’s a Court Ruling from 1992 to describe the status of sodomy in Michigan, for those wondering or actually caring about this.

It has become increasingly clear that the “common sense of society” test is too vague and imprecise to provide fair notice of the conduct proscribed. We should align this Court with the Howell plurality and note our agreement that there is no longer any “common sense of society” regarding sexual behavior between consenting adults in private and that defining gross indecency in terms of the “common sense of society” vests unstructured discretion in the trier of fact to determine whether a crime has been committed.

The Howell definition, which construed the statute to prohibit “oral and manual sexual acts committed without consent or with a person under the age of consent or any ultimate sexual act committed in public,” is clear, concise, and sufficiently inclusive to include defendant Brashier’s grossly indecent conduct.

As far as Michigan is concerned, as long as it’s not forced, coerced, or with a minor, sexual behavior of indecent nature holds no grounding as a crime in the state of Michigan.

It leaves me wondering though, how is a law defining sexual conduct with children or animals “anti-gay”, doesn’t that sound like you are conflating homosexuality with child molestation and bestiality, rather than the other way around? Nowhere in Senator Jones’ statements or the Michigan law, a clearly labelled anti-gay attitude. Michigan had laws for all forms of gross indecency, yes between those of the same sex, but for those of different ones too.

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