By Johnny Kampis | Watchdog.org
CULLMAN, Ala. — The Alabama Legislature is on track to pass a law this session outlawing bestiality in the state.
Your turn, Jersey.
The Alabama Senate quickly voted for Senate Bill 151, which would outlaw sexual contact with animals, when it came up for debate in January. The legislation is moving through the state House with few concerns it won’t pass and be signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley.
There’s a regionally infused joke in there somewhere — and it’s not hard to find.
What’s not so funny: If bestiality is outlawed in Alabama, there will still be 13 states — plus the District of Columbia — that have no such laws on the books, representing a wide swath of the United States. Those states include Hawaii, New Mexico, Texas, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, Vermont and New Hampshire.
The Alabama bill, sponsored by Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, would make bestiality a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. It would exempt acceptable veterinarian and animal husbandry practices.
Whatley’s office didn’t return a call from Watchdog.org on Thursday seeking comment.
Bestiality — also known as zoophilia, for you keeping track at home — is a felony in 16 states, including Alabama’s neighbors Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia.
Scott Heiser, an attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a California-based organization that fights to protect animals through the legal system, said the lack of bestiality laws in states without them is due more to a lack of awareness than a lack of desire.
“I can’t imagine that there are (legislators) out there who say as a policy we should be engaging in sexual acts with animals,” he told Watchdog.org.
Heiser said it often takes a high-profile case, highlighted by the news media, to bring the issue to people’s attention. There may also be some confusion on what’s covered under existing laws. Engaging in bestiality without actually injuring the animal may not be punishable, for example.
“I think a lot of lawmakers think their animal cruelty laws cover this act, but in some states that’s not the case,” Heiser said.
Reach Johnny at firstname.lastname@example.org.