On Friday, an Alabama appeals court struck down a law banning consensual oral and anal sex between unmarried persons. All over the state, people celebrated by continuing to mind their own goddamn sex-business in the privacy of their own homes.
The now-vanquished statute mandated that a person is guilty of "sexual misconduct" if they engage in "[a]ny act of sexual gratification between persons not married to each other involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another" (feel free to paraphrase this steamy language in all your future sexting endeavors). Under the statute, "consent is no defense" against prosecution — if it involves a genital + mouth or anus combination, it's illegal no matter what.
But that wasn't the full extent of the terribleness: as Ian Millihiser points out at ThinkProgress, marriage equality isn't legal in Alabama. So, obviously, since gay couples can't wed, then all gay sex would automatically fall under the ridiculous umbrella of "sexual misconduct." And that was the point, of course: official commentary on the statute shows that it was specifically enacted "to make all homosexual conduct criminal."
Last week's unanimous decision to right this egregious wrong occurred in the case of Dewayne Williams vs. State of Alabama — in 2010, Williams was convicted of first-degree sodomy (which is non-consensual sodomy) in addition to the lesser charge of sexual misconduct. The appeals court's verdict overturns the latter charge, pronouncing the law unconstitutional because it contradicts the Supreme Court's 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision, which ruled that criminalizing private sexual activity between consenting adults violates the 14th Amendment. Uh, yeah, duh. And, just think, it only took 11 years for Alabama to get up to speed!
Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, lauded the ruling as a step in the right direction: "Aiming to ban consensual sex is flat out wrong," she said in statement. "A person's sexual orientation shouldn't matter. Consensual sex is consensual sex."
Meanwhile, anti-sodomy laws remain on the books in eleven other states. Way to go, America. Land of the free indeed.
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