By Bob Katzen
The Senate 39-0, approved and sent to the House a measure that would repeal several archaic laws, still on the books in Massachusetts, which many people no longer see as criminal and/or may be unconstitutional.
The bill would repeal archaic laws that intrude on an individual’s privacy regarding sexual activity by removing the statute that criminalizes sodomy, removing language that criminalizes “unnatural” acts and removing language pertaining to “common nightwalkers.” The bill would also establish a permanent law revision commission. The bill leaves in place statutes prohibiting prostitution and statutes prohibiting sex with animals.
“In my America, there is a personal space the government has no business in,” said sponsor Sen. Will Brownsberger (D-Belmont). “These laws intrude into people’s personal space and they shouldn’t be on the books. The Supreme Court, for a while, has agreed with that. But lately, we are not sure where they are going. The repeal is long overdue but especially timely given [the recent] Supreme Court decision.”
“At a time when conservative Supreme Court justices are invoking discriminatory 18th century laws, we want to make sure there are no laws in Massachusetts that invoke hateful treatment of the LBGTQ community or Puritan attitudes towards sex,” said Senate Judiciary chair Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton). “I’m also grateful that this legislation will repeal the common night walking statute, which has led to the mistreatment of many trans residents.”
“It is undeniable that when it comes to human rights, we cannot rest on our assumptions at this moment in history,” said Sen. Julian Cyr (D-Truro). “First and foremost, the government has no business in people’s sex lives. Furthermore, in a commonwealth that prides itself on our social progressiveness, inclusivity and equality, our laws must reflect these vital ideals. By removing harmful, homophobic and transphobic language from our statutes, we are taking a well overdue step to ensure the letter of the laws promotes equity and justice for the most vulnerable members of our population.”
(A “Yes” vote is for the bill).
Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes