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Utah Politician Not Sure It's Rape When She's Your Unconscious Wife

Illustration for article titled Utah Politician Not Sure Its Rape When Shes Your Unconscious Wife

Utah State Representative Brian Greene is totally against rape, of course. Who wouldn't be? Rape bad. But, you know, he wonders, totally earnestly, is it really rape if you have sex with someone while she's unconscious? What if she's your wife? What if you're pretty sure she'd be totally into it? Shouldn't there be an exception for that?

Greene aired out his dumbshit opinions during a fairly important debate Tuesday in the Utah State Capitol, during a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee. Utah state lawmakers are considering HB 74, which would tighten the state's legal definition of rape, to make it easier to prosecute cases where the victim was unconscious or in cases when the perpetrator knows the victim is "incapable of understanding or resisting the offense."

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Angela Romero, told the Salt Lake Tribune that the bill was "a long time coming," adding, "At the end of the day, if someone's unconscious or they're a vulnerable adult, then the logical answer is: Don't try to have a sexual relationship with them."

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That requirement, however, was too onerous for Rep. Greene's taste. As Think Progress points out, he had some questions about the "unconscious" bit.

"It looks to me now like sex with an unconscious person is, by definition, rape," he said. "I hope this wouldn't happen, but this opens the door to it: an individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious — or he, the only other way around, if that's possible, I don't know. But a prosecutor could then charge that spouse with rape."

Greene later clarified that he wasn't trying to "justify" sex with an unconscious person, calling it "abhorrent." But he still didn't like calling it rape "in every instance," he said, "dependent only upon the actor's knowledge that the individual is unconscious. That's the question. That's what I struggle with."

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There certainly is a lot of struggling going on here, that's true. Despite Greene's concerns, the bill passed the judiciary committee and will proceed to the full house for what we're sure will be a truly memorable floor debate.

Screenshot via Think Progress/KTSU

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DISCUSSION

Sometimes it helps to look at the same type of scenario with a non-sexual action:

My boyfriend often cuts my hair. But I think we could all agree that it is wrong (and creepy) if I wake up and find that he had cut my hair while I was unconscious. Why? Because, although I have given him consent many many many times do cut my hair... he cannot presume that he has the right to cut my hair in times when I am not able to respond.

Or this: My friends come over to my house all the time when I am awake. I open the door for them (because I am awake and able to do so) and we hang out. However, if I woke up one night and found them uninvited sitting on my couch watching TV, there's a good chance I would call the cops. At the very least, we would probably no longer be friends. Why? Because, even though it is something they often do, coming into my home uninvited while I was not in a position to allow them in or turn them away... it's just wrong.