Monday, May 16, 2005

Spousal Rape Bill Going Nowhere - Still Legal to Rape Your Wife in TN - Action Alert!

The ten year fight to get Tennessee legislators to take the crime of spousal rape seriously is still going nowhere. The state’s good old boy legislature (83% male) still doesn’t get it! According to today’s editorial in the Tennessean, “lawmakers are straining to find excuses to let the [spousal rape] bill fail again this year.”

As I wrote in an
earlier post,

A bill that would
remove the spousal exemption from the state's rape law is before the TN legislature - for the tenth year in a row. It's not illegal for a man to rape his wife in this state unless he "uses a weapon, causes her serious bodily injury, or they are separated or divorcing."

When wife rape does qualify as a crime, the law treats it as a less serious crime than the rape of any other woman.

"If he held a knife to [his wife's] throat or beat her to a pulp while he did it, he could be looking at up to 15 years in prison. If he did the same thing to someone he never met before or even his girlfriend, he would face up to 60 years behind bars."

To date, the Tennessean is the only newspaper in the state to take a stand on this bill, or even to provide coverage (via Google search).

In the Nashville daily newspaper’s view:

"To remain one of the few states that distinguishes spousal rape from other kinds of rapes is a stain Tennesseans should be embarrassed to have. Only 15 states, including Tennessee, don't consider spousal rape without force a crime."

Yeah, Tennesseans should be embarrased, but with such shoddy media coverage how many Tennesseans are even aware of the problem?

Tennesseans should not only be embarrassed by legislators, who think it’s more important to outlaw gay marriage than to adequately outlaw rape within marriage, they should also be embarrassed by the failure of state media to take the deplorable status of Tennessee women seriously.

The failure of the media to adequately inform the public about outrages - such as the fact that it is legal to rape your wife unless you use a weapon or beat her to a pulp – is an outrage in itself.

The opposition of State Rep. Frank Buck (D) has been cited in all two of the newspaper stories concerning the spousal rape bill. (In both the House and the Senate, the bill - HB1116/SB0556 - is sponsored by women.)

Frank Buck worries that women might lie. The democrat worries that removing the spousal exception from rape law might enable a woman to "get a leg up" in a divorce or custody case. "[I]f there's only two witnesses without physical evidence, it's so easy to lie.''

Frank Buck seems to be unaware of the fact we have judges and juries to deal with the issue of proving a case.

Rep. Buck voted to protect the “sanctity” of marriage by outlawing gay marriage. Apparently, in this man’s view, the sanctity of marriage is not disturbed when a man rapes his wife.

Frank Buck has four daughters.

You can reach the neanderthal here.

An even better idea is to shine a little national embarrassment on the neanderthals who serve as lawmakers in this state. I can think of no one who does a better job at shining light on neaderthals than Keith Olbermann at MSNBC.

Please email Keith and ask him to do a story on Tennessee’s archaic rape law, otherwise known as the number one reason for Tennessee women to remain single. Please help regardless of what state you reside in. If you want the South to stop leading the country into the dark pit of ignorance, then you need to help the South get out of that pit.

Thanks to the laziness of our media, Tennessee lawmakers are rarely required to articulate a rationale for their positions on issues such as this. Ask Keith to invite Frank Buck to come on his show and defend his position on prime time MSNBC. (Countdown, 8:00pm ET, weeknights).

Other blogs that have written about Tennessee's archaic rape law: Pandagon and Feministing and Nashville is Talking.
And here's a related sad story from the past: Chattanooga police arrested a man this week for forcing his wife to perform oral sex on him. Arrest records show he pulled out her hair and left her with bruises, but has not been charged with rape.