- Associated Press - Sunday, June 19, 2016

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Some lawyers and gay rights supporters say lingering statutes criminalizing sodomy and laws prohibiting same-sex marriage could be used to harass gay couples in Michigan, despite court rulings that render the laws moot.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that laws banning same-sex sodomy are unconstitutional, Ferndale attorney Rudy Serra said if the right conservative prosecutor and judge paired up in Michigan, they could technically still prosecute someone for sodomy. Serra said the hypothetical case would be thrown out upon appeal.

“But that doesn’t change the fact that to get to (that point), some couples’ lives could be ruined. Financially they could be devastated just because we decided we’re gonna leave these statutes on the books,” Serra said, adding that the lingering 1931 anti-sodomy law also “certainly expresses society’s most severe condemnation.”

The sodomy law re-entered public consciousness this year after Republican state Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge introduced a bill dealing with animal cruelty - which the Senate approved - that could stop a person who “commits the abominable and detestable crime against nature” with an animal from owning one. The House is now considering that bill.

The state’s “crime against nature,” or sodomy statute says anyone who has anal sex with an animal or a human in Michigan could be sentenced to 15 years in prison. Some media outlets and blogs reported that Jones had written a law criminalizing human anal sex, but that statute has been in place for decades. Jones said he wanted to address animal cruelty, and didn’t scrap the section dealing with human sodomy because of the political brawl it likely would have fueled in a Republican-controlled Legislature.



That state statute, along with those defining marriage as between “a man and a woman” are unlikely to be repealed in Michigan, say some lawmakers and legal experts on a state commission charged with identifying unenforceable or anachronistic state laws.

That commission released a draft report that shows more than 100 state statutes may need revision after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned prohibitions on same-sex marriage on June 26, 2015.

Richard McLellan, the director of the Michigan Law Revision Commission, said the group doesn’t have authority to repeal laws itself; it makes recommendations to the Legislature.

McLellan said Attorney General Bill Schuette’s past statements about the state’s same-sex marriage laws after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling may be a good sign.

Yet many laws overturned by court rulings or that are too anachronistic to apply still linger. McLellan said the commission doesn’t have a running tab on just how many such laws stick around.

Republican state Rep. Peter Lucido, who is also on the Law Revision Commission, said he thinks the commission is doing the best it can, but expressed vexation with the many unenforceable state laws yet to be repealed.

“Why do they leave these on the books? They like to waste paper,” Lucido said.

“We don’t meet enough,” said Democratic state Rep. Rose Mary Robinson, who is also on the Law Revision Commission. She said her colleagues in the Legislature aren’t motivated to scrap old laws, and especially not ones addressing same-sex marriage, though Democrats in the both the state Senate and House have introduced bills to delete old sections prohibiting same-sex marriage. Those bills are all stuck in committees and unlikely to emerge in a Republican-controlled legislature.

“Things are not gonna change if people don’t want them to change,” Robinson said. “I don’t think anybody has the energy or the interest to tell you the truth. There’s no glory in repealing laws, I guess.”

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