As my colleague Rich just reported, Louisiana lawmakers defended their ban on consensual oral and anal sex today, even though it's unconstitutional. Weirdly, though, Louisiana has no problem with people fucking corpses. It turns out they're not alone.
A quick survey of nationwide laws on sodomy and necrophilia shows that there are four states that explicitly ban the former in some way, while remaining silent on the latter:
- In Louisiana and North Carolina, two willing adults can't get no oral satisfaction, but they can diddle a dead person.
- Oklahoma and Kansas are also cool with you banging the dearly departed, but they ban oral intercourse between consenting gay or lesbian partners.
- For the record, several other states—Nebraska, New Mexico, and Vermont—also appear to allow necrophilia, but they're cool with sodomy, too, so at least they're consistent.
It turns out there's actually a fraught history behind necrophilia and the law; many of the states that think they've banned it actually have vague injunctions banning "crimes against nature," or they classify it as a sexual assault against a partner who can't give consent.
That leads to some trouble in the courts. In Wisconsin a few years back, three young men were arrested while trying to dig up a corpse for sex. Since the state didn't have an explicit necrophilia ban, they were charged with attempted sexual assault for their intent to have sex with an unwilling party. But an appeals court threw out their conviction, saying a corpse isn't a person under state law, and therefore consent isn't an issue. (The state Supreme Court, apparently afraid of suborning a corpse-banging epidemic, voted 5-2 to restore their conviction on shaky legal grounds.)
The problem is that "the dead body is a quasi-subject before the law," according to legal theorist John Troyer in his landmark 2008 journal article on the subject, and "the ambiguous juridical standing of the human corpse in necrophilia cases compounds the sexual monstrousness of the necrophiliac and of necrophilic acts."
In any case, it seems to offend our modern moral intuitions that any sex between consenting adults could be illegal, but sex with a dead person—can anyone be less willing than a corpse?—could be permissible.
Of course, Christian moralizers would say that's why all non-straight, non-missionary sex should be illegal: because parsing out the secular legal intricacies of various sex acts is a lot muddier than resting on the word of God.
That would be great!... if everyone believed in their God and their interpretation of that God's sexual laws. But hell, not even Louisiana legislators can apparently get on board with that thoroughgoing reasoning. And until they do, the anti-sodomy, anti-necrophilia religious right is just flogging a dead horse. (But not fucking it, obviously.)
Full map—red states are the anti-blowjobs, corpse-sex-friendly states:
(h/t Stuff You Should Know)