US defence bill repeals ban on sodomy
Washington - Recently passed Senate legislation would make sodomy and sex with animals legal under military law, ending long-standing prohibitions and triggering cries of perversion from conservative groups.
The bill, which the Senate passed 93 - 7 last week, would repeal Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which states that any person who engages in "unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy".
Those found guilty of sodomy would be subject to court-martial.
Senate Armed Services Committee chair Carl Levin, a Democrat, said on Thursday that the repeal was simply a legal change because it is no longer constitutional. A 2003 Supreme Court decision struck down a Texas ban on sodomy as an unconstitutional intrusion on privacy.
The committee said the changes in law were recommended by the Joint Services Committee on Military Justice and the secretary of defence.
Senate negotiators are working to reconcile their version of the bill with the version passed by the House of Representatives and produce final legislation that would set policy for the Pentagon. Levin indicated that there are some differences with House lawmakers over the provision.
Conservative groups angered by the end this year of the ban on gays serving openly in the military were outraged by the proposed repeal of the sodomy provision.
"Now, in its rush to accommodate the left, Congress may have inadvertently opened the door to even more perversion," Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said in a statement.
"As part of the defence authorisation bill, liberals are pushing to make sodomy a legal activity under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In its haste to make gay sex an official part of military life, the left could be unintentionally repealing the ban on bestiality too."