A recent bill introduced in the state house to update the sodomy laws was concerning because it could punish consenting teens as it was originally presented.
Sen. Thomas Garrett Jr. introduced the bill, SB 14, to revise a controversial anti-sodomy law aimed at protecting those younger than 18. The bill’s intended focus is adult predators, however the presented version stated anyone engaging in oral or anal sex with a person younger than 18 years old would be guilty of a felony and could receive up to five years in prison, which stirred up a lot of controversy in the past weeks.
The bill is an attempt to bring back a law struck down as unconstitutional in March 2013. Since then, the state has not revised its anti-sodomy laws and revised them to prevent the release of those imprisoned and tried under the previous laws. Questions have surrounded the law since a 2003 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court struck declared a similar Texas statute as unconstitutional.
Critics have warned it would criminalize sexual acts between two consenting teenagers, but Sen. Garrett has stated that is not his intention and he is only attempting to protect children from adult sexual predators.
The Senate Courts of Justice Committee unanimously approved the revised bill Wednesday. The revision will protect the prosecutor’s ability to criminally charge adults accused of having sexual contact with juveniles.