As longtime readers of Eat The Press know, the state of Florida has struggled in recent years to pass a law that will make bestiality illegal. The saga began in January of 2008, when the raping and killing of a goat -- a beloved family pet -- shocked the sensibilities of Florida residents. This led to a second shock when everyone realized that the rape of the goat wasn't actually a prosecutable offense in Florida.
"There needs to be a law," declared state Sen. Nan Rich (D), who probably didn't realize at the time that enacting such a law would prove to be nigh-impossible or that she'd become known as America's top anti-bestiality lawmaker. Rich led two attempts to pass such a law, but those efforts came to naught. There's good news, though: Rich and her colleagues are taking another run at it:
The Florida Senate just unanimously voted (again) to make sex with animals illegal. Sen. Nan Rich introduced the bill, noting "I know people would rather I not describe it... This is a serious issue."
Twice before, the Florida Senate has taken the matter to this point, and unfortunately, twice before, Rich's bill has foundered in the House. Last May, it seemed like this law was all set for enactment, but the wheels came off for a number of reasons, the first being that "the outrageous nature of the subject it sought to address actually worked against it":
Lawmakers said they didn't want to be accused of wasting time addressing a rare crime when Floridians needed them to help create jobs. They also didn't want to debate the icky subject in public meetings occasionally frequented by children.
Whether or not the ickiness of a debate would have a more lasting effect on a child than the ickiness of an actual goat rape is a question that nobody, apparently, thought to take up at the time. But the second reason the anti-bestiality law failed had to do with the legislative process itself, as lawmakers somehow decided it would be a good idea to fold this anti-bestiality measure inside an already contentious bill:
The Senate passed the measure twice, but it did not earn so much as a hearing in the House until this session, when Hasner proposed a compromise. The ban was tucked into an omnibus agriculture bill (HB 1445), which passed in the House.
But the Senate passed a different agriculture bill on the last day of the session that would have allowed some gun owners to store their guns in their vehicles in previously exempted locations. The bill (SB 382) also added a fertilizer provision that would make it easier for localities to approve strict ordinances. With mere hours left before the session's close, the House refused to take up the gun and fertilizer language, effectively slaying the agriculture bill.
A separate bill that addressed only animal bestiality never made it to the House floor.
So, there have been a lot of lessons to learn along the way to making it illegal to sex up Florida's fauna. Hopefully the third time will be the charm. Go Florida lawmakers! We are rooting for you!