Earlier this week, the state of Oregon passed a bill that one newspaper referred to as “too gross to talk about.” What could be so gross? Before I divulge any explicit details, I recommend that those who are easily repulsed turn away now.
The proposed law makes it a second-degree sexual abuse to propel “a dangerous substance at another person.” Hmm. It appears that the legislature’s intent was to outlaw bukkake, a practice apparently popularized in Japanese pornography. We’ll spare you an explanation of what this practice entails, but the link provided will take you to a Wikipedia page that explains the "ritual."
The passing of this law stemmed from a very serious and traumatizing non-consensual incident that occurred last June. Although the new law criminalizes such non-consensual acts, it also embraces the consensual practice of this sexual conduct. Although I agree that the conduct is repulsive, is the criminalizing of sexual activity between consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes necessary? Is it even constitutional?
In Lawrence v. Texas, the Court explained that decisions by consenting adults “concerning the intimacies of their physical relationship, even when not intended to produce offspring, are a form of ‘liberty’ protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” 539 U.S. 558, 578 (2003) (quoting Bowers v. Hardwick 478 U.S. 186, 216 (2003) (Stevens, J, dissenting)). Although the practice Oregon's statute proscribes is clearly much different than that the Court held could not be restricted in Lawrence, it seems to me that the same constitutional rights are implicated. And "morality" would not overcome the scrutiny the Lawrence Court utilized.
So here's what I'm wondering: can the state of Oregon legally criminalize private sexual activity between consenting adults (notwithstanding the fact this law may be pointlessly stupid)? We would love to hear your opinion.
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[Ed. Note: The illustration was found here after a google search for Lawrence v. Texas]