10 ways Indiana lawmakers want to send you to hell, to jail or both.Laura McPhee
OK, so a fortunate few of us got lucky on Valentine’s Day and had a little slice of heaven between the sheets before the sun came up. But did you know your little slice of heaven might just be enough to have Indiana lawmakers thinking you deserve to go to hell, to jail or both? Here’s a little NUVO quiz to find out whether you’re a sinner and/or criminal according to Indiana state law. The bad news is it only takes one “yes” answer to condemn your soul and possibly your personal freedom. The good news is they’d have to build a whole lot of jails to keep us locked up for the duration of our time here on Earth, and we’ll be in pretty good company if we spend eternity burning below. 1. Are you a pervert? Before you skip this question, you should know exactly how Indiana law defines “deviate sexual conduct.” Keeping in mind that the definition of deviate is “abnormal” and “sexually perverted,” here’s what the state law says: IC 35-41-1-9 “Deviate sexual conduct means an act involving 1) a sex organ of one person and the mouth or anus of another person; or 2) the penetration of the sex organ or anus of a person by an object.” In other words, if it involves blow jobs, butts or batteries, it’s “deviate” sexual conduct here in Indiana. And while there might be a certain segment of the general population that applauds the opportunity to cite an unwillingness to break the law as an excuse not to go south (especially when the suggested location happens to be an automobile in which you are a passenger), most of us might be surprised to know Indiana state law considers us perverts even when we’re doing it behind closed bedroom doors. But aside from name-calling, does “deviate sexual conduct” between two consenting adults have any real legal consequences? Publicly having sex of any type (use your broadest definition here Mr. Clinton) is against the law in Indiana. More specifically, a person who knowingly or intentionally, in a public place, engages in sexual intercourse, appears in a state of nudity with the intent to arouse sexual desire or fondles genitals (your own or someone else’s) is committing “public indecency.” The decision of whether “public indecency” is a felony or misdemeanor often rests with the prosecuting attorney in the case. Some cases are pleaded down, others are not. If a person is convicted of a felony public indecency charge, that person is considered a sex offender and will often be included on public sex offender registries. It’s not only public sexual conduct (deviate and otherwise) that can bring a criminal conviction. What two adults, married or not, decide between themselves to do in the privacy of their bedroom can also lead to jail time. At least 15 states criminalize oral sex. More than 20 criminalize vibrator sales and/or use. More than 25 criminalize anal sex. Are you a pervert? Odds are the Indiana General Assembly thinks so. 2. Are you sporting a stiffy? Yes, it’s true. Like 15 other states and the District of Columbia, it is illegal for a man to have an erection in public in the state of Indiana. This part of the “public indecency” law is most often used in raids at strip clubs and adult book stores, but it’s also a favorite for nabbing gay men in the shower at the local gym (see “Are You Gay?” below). And if you think such a law is antiquated or unconstitutional — think again. In 1991, the United States Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s public indecency law, including the part about public hard-ons. 3. Are you having sex out of wedlock? According to Indiana law, “a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity.” Ask an Indiana legislator what this law is based upon, and he or she will tell you the Holy Bible. Despite their concern for the souls of those having sex out of wedlock, lawmakers seem to have had some trouble getting marriage as the “expected standard of human sexual activity” to translate into widespread practice for Indiana residents in recent years. Therefore, lawmakers have pinned their hopes on ending the scourge of sex outside of marriage through education. Year after year, millions and millions and millions and millions and millions (etc.) of dollars are poured in to “abstinence only” sex-ed programs. These programs teach kids all the way through high school graduation that they should not have sex until they are married. According to state law, public schools must stress sexual abstinence until marriage and may not provide instruction regarding family planning, contraception or disease risk-reduction methods (IC 20.-10.1-4-11). Additionally, state and local funds are only given to a sexual education program that, according to the language of the law, “has as its exclusive purpose teaching the social, psychological and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity; teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard; teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and other associated health problems; teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity; teaches that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects; teaches that bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child’s parents and society.” The effort to stem “sexual activity outside of the context of marriage” does not stop with laws concerning education. With 50 percent of Indiana high school students graduating with sexual experience, lawmakers have decided it’s not enough to tell their constituents not to have sex until they are married. State law also provides that a person may not be required, as a condition of training, employment, pay, promotion or privileges, to dispense a birth control device or medication — that includes the pharmacist who refuses to give birth control pills to unmarried women and the check-out lady at Walgreen’s who refuses to sell condoms to unmarried men. So, are you having out of wedlock sexual activity? If so, Indiana lawmakers don’t want you to know about contraception or birth control and they don’t think you have a legal right to acquire it. 4. Are you “living in sin”? Here in the good old-fashioned Midwest, “living in sin” is still a big deal. Such a big deal, in fact, that state lawmakers have been busy passing legislation to punish those who choose to live together and have sex without tying the noose, er, I mean knot. A bill was introduced in the state Legislature last month for an act to amend the Indiana code concerning family and juvenile law to read as follows: “Marriage is preferred, encouraged, and supported over any other domestic relationship.” A domestic relationship, according to the bill, is two adults in a sexual relationship who live together. There’s not much else to the statement — no context or crime given. Just the proclamation in Indiana state law that “marriage is preferred, encouraged, and supported over any other domestic relationship.” Uh ... OK. Setting aside for a moment that politicians can just use the law as a personal soapbox, does it matter if the state “prefers” marriage over living in sin? You betcha. Consider for a moment what will happen next year when those we’ve elected to the General Assembly overwhelmingly pass what they like to call the “Marriage Amendment,” otherwise known as SJR 7. Senate Joint Resolution 7 does more than define marriage as exclusively a union between one man and one woman (that’s the anti-gay marriage part); it also denies the legal rights of marriage to unmarried persons. Couples choosing to “live in sin” will be legally barred from receiving benefits married couples receive such as the ability to give medical or health care directives for incapacitated or comatose partners, inheritance or estate tax exemption when a partner dies and leaves assets to a surviving partner, legal right to take time off under the Federal Family Leave Act and parenting-adoption rights in the case of a birth parent’s death. No matter how long the couple has been together, a surviving unmarried partner has no claim to Social Security benefits or pension benefits. Additionally, if a married person with an individual retirement account (IRA) dies, that account can be transferred to the surviving spouse who does not pay tax. Unmarried couples do not have that benefit. Perhaps the most serious ramifications of the amendment will be seen in the prosecution of domestic violence crimes. In Ohio, where a same-sex amendment was enacted on Dec. 2 of last year, a motion has already been introduced by a public defender to dismiss domestic violence charges against defendants who are not legally married to their accusers. According to the Cuyahoga County public defender, the distinction has been made that domestic violence is for “wife-beaters, not girlfriend-beaters.” The attorney general of Michigan is pursuing similar policies. Indiana law uses the term “spouse” in its domestic violence law as well. If the Constitution is amended as legislators hope, those living in sin might be forced to live with a partner who beats the crap out of them. Because in Indiana, you only get the law on your side if you’ve got Jesus on your side as well. Those “living in sin” have neither. 5. Are you thinking of becoming an “unwed mother” (or father)? State Sen. Patricia Miller believes Indiana law should prevent single adults from being parents. “Studies have shown that a child raised by both parents — a mother and a father — do better. So, we do want to have laws that protect the children,” she said in a recent interview. When asked specifically if she believes marriage should be a requirement for motherhood, Miller responded, “Yes. Yes, I do.” In her quest to make it illegal for non-married persons to become parents, Miller recently introduced legislation that would require pregnancy by a means other than sexual intercourse to be controlled by the courts and require a “petition of parentage” given only to married couples. The “Unauthorized Reproduction” bill required every woman in Indiana seeking to become a mother through assisted reproduction therapy such as in vitro fertilization, sperm donation and egg donation to first file for a “petition for parentage” in their local county probate court. Only women who are married would be considered for the “gestational certificate” that must be presented to any doctor who facilitates the pregnancy. Further, the “gestational certificate” would only be given to married couples that successfully complete the same screening process currently required by law of adoptive parents. An intended parent “who knowingly or willingly participates in an artificial reproduction procedure” without court approval, “commits unauthorized reproduction, a Class B misdemeanor.” The criminal charges will be the same for physicians who commit “unauthorized practice of artificial reproduction.” This change in Indiana law to require marriage as a condition for motherhood and criminalizing “unauthorized reproduction” was introduced at a summer meeting of the Indiana General Assembly’s Health Finance Commission on Sept. 29. When media reports about the legislation resulted in a huge public outcry against the bill, Miller pulled the legislation stating simply, “The issue has become more complex than anticipated and will be withdrawn from consideration.” The issue isn’t dead however. Miller attached an amendment to a bill currently making its way through the General Assembly that establishes a “commission” to study “the need and feasibility of establishing parentage within the court system for children born through assisted reproduction, gestational agreements, or surrogacy agreements.” Other lawmakers are working just as diligently as Miller to make it illegal for unmarried couples to be adoptive and foster parents. 6. Are you considering marriage? Though lawmakers in Indiana prefer, encourage, support and everything else short of holding the shotgun marriage ... they don’t want just anyone getting married. In order to be legally married in this state, you must be a union of one man and one woman. No ifs, ands or civil unions. One boy, one girl, period. You can be retarded. You can be first cousins. You can be 15 and still get married. But you can’t be gay. And just to make sure there are no “unauthorized marriages” in Indiana, lawmakers are now passing a new law that gives them the power to perform marriages themselves. This is in addition to a law already on the books that forbids “unauthorized persons” from performing marriage ceremonies. It is also against the law (punishable by fine and a prison sentence) to perform a marriage ceremony for “unauthorized” (i.e. h-o-m-o-s-e-x-u-a-l) persons. 7. Are you considering a divorce? Do it quickly. Though Indiana is one of just a few states that do not keep an official record of the number of divorces that occur, estimates routinely place Indiana in the top 10 states with the highest divorce rate. The solution according to lawmakers? Put an end to no-fault divorce. Indiana Sen. Dennis Kruse has introduced legislation to create what evangelicals call “Covenant Marriage” and it is currently being considered as part of this year’s legislative session. According to lobbyist Ryan McKann of the Evangelical Indiana Family Institute, “Covenant Marriage is one large step towards reclaiming the respect that the marriage contract has lost due to no-fault divorce.” “One of the great things about Covenant Marriage is that it takes ‘irreconcilable differences’ out of the picture,” according to the Family Research Council. “Covenant Marriage would not be a contract so easily entered into or broken. Marriage counseling would have to precede the Covenant Marriage and only a few actions on the part of the couple could break the contract, such as adultery. For too long government has allowed a marriage license to represent a meaningless promise and an unenforceable contract. We could change that by passing Covenant Marriage legislation into law.” 8. Are you a woman considering an abortion? Since 1993, Indiana law has stated that “childbirth is preferred, encouraged, and supported over abortion” (IC 16-34-1-1). No exceptions, no discussion, no choice or privacy. The state simply prefers, encourages and supports childbirth over abortion — at least until they can make abortion illegal altogether. Indiana lawmakers have been bragging to anyone who’ll listen in recent weeks — including The Indianapolis Star, Los Angeles Times and USA Today — that they have a plan to make abortion illegal in the state of Indiana and open the door to overturn Roe v. Wade around the country. It’s called House Bill 1096, sponsored by Reps. Troy Woodruff, Cindy Noe, Tim Harris and Jacqueline Walrorski ,and, in addition to declaring that human life begins at fertilization, the bill “[m]akes performing any abortion that is not necessary to prevent a substantial permanent impairment of the life or physical health of the pregnant woman a Class C felony.” Indiana lawmakers admit the bill was introduced in part because a state must pass a law and then appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court to see if Roe v. Wade — the 1973 Supreme Court case that effectively barred state abortion bans — would be overturned. An Indiana law banning most abortions will probably be challenged in the courts and could end up as a test case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Woodruff said the issue should have been left up to the states, and he’s hoping a newly constituted Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito, will decide the abortion issue differently than the 1973 court did. At a Washington, D.C., anti-abortion rally several weeks ago, Indiana Congressman Mike Pence proclaimed his support for Judge Alito as a milestone in making abortions illegal. “We must support the confirmation of Judge Alito and other jurists who will support a strict-constructionist view of the law and make it possible once and for all to end Roe v. Wade,” Pence exclaimed. (And here’s an interesting little tidbit. In the state of Indiana, a 15-year-old girl can get married if she is pregnant. The law only requires that she marry the father of the baby, though no proof of paternity is required. If that same girl chooses to have an abortion, however, her pregnancy is considered a sex crime and must be reported as child abuse to local authorities.) 9. Are you a teacher? While your personal sex life might not ever be an issue in the classroom, be forewarned that lawmakers want to issue a legislative gag order for all public school teachers. The new “preference for marriage” bill includes the stipulation that public schools may not allow instruction “that is contrary to certain policies established by law concerning marriage and abortion.” Specifically, the bill forbids teachers from contradicting IC 16-34-1-1 (childbirth is preferred, encouraged and supported over abortion) or IC 16-31-1-05 (marriage is preferred, encouraged and supported over any other domestic relationship). How exactly would this work? Lawmakers haven’t provided any clear answers, nor have they specified what the criminal penalty for teachers who provide facts about marriage or abortion in the classroom would be. But here’s one scenario. Let’s say you teach high school and a 17-year-old female student informs you that she was gang-raped and is now pregnant as a result. After reporting the crime, which you are required by law to do, you could be charged with a crime yourself if you suggest that in this case abortion might be preferred over childbirth. (Who’s going to hell for that one?) 10. Are you gay? If you haven’t already figured it out, Indiana lawmakers have little tolerance for “alternative” lifestyles. They’re using every tool, no pun intended, at their disposal to make what they consider the sin of homosexuality as illegal as they believe it is immoral. According to state law, gay sex is “deviate,” gay marriage is illegal, gay parents are quickly on their way to extinction and the Indiana General Assembly is now considering a state law that would overturn city and local ordinances prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals in employment, housing or education. And it’s not just lawmakers who are trying to keep us safe from those pesky gay people; law enforcement officials want to round ’em up and send them to jail as well. The Indianapolis Police Department has arrested more than a dozen men in recent months on public indecency charges as part of a sting operation targeting gay men at local health clubs. At the National Institute of Fitness and Sport (NIFS) downtown, an undercover officer hung out, naked, in the men’s shower and struck up several friendly conversations with fellow naked guys. In at least one instance, the officer began to chat up a fellow while the two were showering and the conversation became a little flirty. No offers of money were exchanged. No touching occurred. But when the “perp” got aroused during the conversation with the naked, soapy, sexy undercover officer, he got busted on charges of public indecency. Now the guy with the hard-on is facing a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Are you paying attention? Bitch all you want about elected officials who “legislate morality,” but the truth is they’ve got history and the United States Supreme Court on their side. The truth is Americans have no inherent sexual rights or marriage rights guaranteed by the Constitution or any other federal or state authority, at least none that have swayed the highest court in the land. When it upheld Indiana’s public indecency statute, the Supreme Court explained that states have “the authority to provide for the public health, safety, and morals” of the general public and Indiana lawmakers can enact legislation with the “purpose of protecting societal order and morality.” If Indiana lawmakers decide that their opinions of what constitutes a sin should also constitute a criminal act, we have only ourselves to blame. It’s our votes or lack of votes that keep them in office and keep them in our bedrooms. But if all us sinners went to the voting booth in November the law might actually support, encourage and prefer for consenting adults to keep their private parts and private lives private and out of the Indiana General Assembly. Maybe then a little slice of Valentine’s Day heaven won’t be enough to land the majority of us in jail ... even if it doesn’t do much to keep us out of hell.