WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, joined Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., in introducing a new measure that would protect the right of individual adults to engage in private, non-commercial, consensual sexual conduct.
The companion version of the Right to Private Conduct Act was introduced in the House by Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif.
“Our bill makes one thing clear: What goes on between consenting adults in their private lives is their business, not the government’s,” Schatz said.
On the heels of Tuesday’s enactment of the Respect for Marriage Act, which requires recognition of valid same-sex marriages at the state and federal levels, the Right to Private Conduct Act is another piece of legislation designed to preempt what Blumenthal characterized as “the Supreme Court’s ongoing attacks on privacy and personal freedom.”
In response to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and Justice Clarence Thomas’ suggestion that the high court revisit other cases involving marriage, contraception and other issues targeted by conservatives, Congressional Democrats have been moving swiftly to pass legislation codifying protections on abortion, same-sex marriage and other rights before Republicans retake control of the House in January.
While Democrats have led the lame-duck activity, voting has not necessarily followed strict partisan lines. The Respect for Marriage Act, for example, was supported by 12 Senate Republicans.
“The Supreme Court has grown senseless in their attacks on our rights,” Takano said. “As it stands, millions of Americans could see a rollback of their protected rights to make their own personal decisions about fundamentally private matters. While the threat to reconsider the current interpretations of privacy and liberty affects everyone, it disproportionately affects the LGBTQ+ community. The government has no right to interfere in the sexual relations of any consenting adult, and the Right to Private Conduct Act will finally enshrine this belief into federal law.”
The newly introduced measure is based on the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling, which held that adult individuals should be free of unwarranted state intrusion into their personal decisions regarding consensual sexual relationships.
The Senate bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii. Takano’s House bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Sylvia Garcia, D-Tex.; Chris Pappas, D-N.H.; Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y.; Sara Jacobs, D-Calif.; Katie Porter, D-Calif.; and Dwight Evans, D-Pa.
Michael Tsai covers local and state politics for Spectrum News Hawaii.