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The U.S. Senate Thursday approved a defense spending bill that repeals an archaic antisodomy law applying to members of the military -- something welcomed by gay rights advocates and alarming to right-wing groups, which are raising the specter of bestiality.
The bill repeals Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which bars troops from engaging in consensual sodomy, with offenders tried before a court-martial. LGBT activists have long campaigned for this provision to be removed from the code, pointing out that it has remained a part of military law years after the Supreme Court's 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision struck down sodomy laws that apply to civilians.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network officials had hailed the repeal when it was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee and did so again upon approval by the full Senate, noting that it has been recommended not only by advocacy groups but by legal scholars. The House version of the bill does not contain the repeal provision, so it is one of the things that must be reconciled between the two chambers before the bill goes to President Obama for his signature. Other differences to be worked out address whether same-sex weddings can be performed on military bases.
The repeal apparently scared many antigay groups, which are trying to scare their supporters even more. An article on the ultraconservative website CNSNews.com, headlined "Senate Approves Bill that Legalizes Sodomy and Bestiality in U.S. Military," notes that Article 125 defines sodomy as "unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal." As conservative leaders do allow that bestiality could still be prosecuted as an offense against good military order and discipline, it's clear they're using it as an attention-getter and that their true concern lies elsewhere -- as evidenced by this quote from Family Research Council president Tony Perkins:
"It's all about using the military to advance this administration's radical social agenda," Perkins told CNSNews.com. "Not only did they overturn don't ask, don't tell, but they had another problem, and that is, under military law sodomy is illegal, just as adultery is illegal, so they had to remove that prohibition against sodomy."