Bills challenge antigay Michigan laws

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com May 07 2003 12:00 AM ET

A Michigan lawmaker announced new legislation on Monday that would repeal the state's Gross Indecency Law, which among other prohibitions bars people of the same gender from having sex. State representative Steve Tobocman (D-Detroit) introduced the legislation as well as other bills that would repeal laws prohibiting cursing, blasphemy, and cohabitation. Sean Kosofsky, policy director for the Detroit-based gay rights group Triangle Foundation, said dozens of men are arrested each year for "gross indecency."

Gross indecency statutes classify certain adult consensual noncommercial sex as a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Kosofsky said that while most people charged under the law don't typically serve jail time, they pay high fees and are on the state's sex-offender registry. "Most people believe these laws are silly and that Michigan looks silly for maintaining them," Kosofsky said.

The bills have been referred to the house criminal justice committee. Rep. William Van Regenmorter, a Republican from Ottawa County's Georgetown Township, is chairman of the criminal justice committee. He didn't return a call seeking comment about whether the committee would take up the bills.