Yes, It Is Rape In Every Instance

Image from UCASA

Image from UCASA

Yesterday HB 74 went to committee at the Utah State Legislature. The bill, sponsored by Representative Angela Romero (D-Salt Lake City), would clarify consent laws to include language that protects people with disabilities from sexual assault, as well as anyone who is unconscious at the time of assault. The bill seems pretty cut and dry to anyone with a slight understanding of healthy sex and sexuality, but a few legislators voiced concern on some really unsettling grounds.

Why would anyone hesitate to pass this bill?

Well, because they want to have sex with their wife while she’s unconscious! (Which is rape, just so we’re clear.) “If an individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious … a prosecutor could then charge that spouse with rape, theoretically,” said Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove. Yup, that’s exactly right, Mr. Greene. That husband should be charged with sexual assault, because he doesn’t have free rein over his wife’s body. Greene went on to question whether sex with an unconscious person is “rape in every instance.” 

Rep. Greene wasn’t the only offensive blowhard in the conversation, Representative LaVar Christensen (R-Draper) chalked the whole discussion up by saying, “It’s an uncomfortable discussion to even have.” Do you know what’s more uncomfortable than discussing sexual assault? Being sexually assaulted, which is why the bill is being proposed!

The State of Utah has a serious sexual assault problem that needs to be addressed. In Utah 1 in 3 women will experience sexual assault, and rape is the only category of violent crime that outpaces national averages in Utah.  We need HB74, and if it wasn’t clear before, the conversation yesterday crystallized the need.

Some closing points to remember:

1. You don’t own your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, intimate partner, etc.. You do not have the right to sexual access of your intimate partner whenever you see fit.

2. Consent is not a one-time transaction. Someone who has sex with you once doesn’t have to have sex with you again.

3. Consent is ongoing. You should receive verbal and physical cues from your sexual partner throughout your sexual interaction.

4. Consent to one sexual act does not mean consent to another (agreeing to penile vaginal contact doesn’t mean you have consent for penile anal contact).

5. We vote for these people. Remember their names during the election. Should these guys be in charge of decisions?

You can follow the bill here as it heads out of committee.


  1. Sheila A. Donovan says:

    If someone put their penis inside this politician’s rectum while he was unconscious, I am positive he would consider it rape!

  2. Wrote to Mr. Greene, his reply follows:

    Thank you fro taking the time to forward pertinent information about sexual assault. I am very aware of the seriousness of the problem in general and with respect to spousal rape. I assure you that I do not condone rape of any unconscious individual and I clearly stated that several times during my comments. Unfortunately the media reports contain only a small snippet of a much larger conversation. The bill in question was not about what constitutes rape, the statute already considers it rape to have sex with an unconscious person without consent. The issue that the bill required us to decide was whether to remove the consent element of the crime. In other words, in the prosecution of a charge of rape for having sex with an unconscious person, the lack of consent would be assumed by the statute and the jury could never consider the issue of consent. I was simply trying to explore whether there could ever be a situation where the element of consent might still be relevant like it is with other actions that could constitute rape. What the stories you are reading or hearing don’t tell you is that I was very supportive of the bill and I voted for it.

    My approach to legislation assumes that citizens want their legislators to critically analyze proposed changes to law before making those changes? Admittedly, the example I used was not the best, but committee meetings are not rehearsed. Sometimes we pose hypothetical situations to see if there is something we are missing. My hypothetical was in no way intended to suggest, nor do I believe, that having sex with an unconscious spouse is acceptable, or that marriage is in any way a shield to rape. I only raised that question to cause the committee to examine whether the long sexual history of a couple could ever be relevant to the question of consent. Ultimately, the committee (including me) decided, by passing the bill, that in order to close a potential loophole, it was best to legislate consent out of the equation.

    Lawmaking isn’t always pretty to watch, but it is the end result that counts. I just want to make sure we get it right. I strongly support closing any loopholes that allow offenders to evade prosecution and I believe this bill does that. I sincerely apologize for any unintended pain or embarrassment that the use of my comments out of context may have caused.

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