The next fight on the hill. Repealing bestiality laws?

The defense spending authorization bill has many a slip twixt the cup and the lip, as they say, but there’s one piece in there which is raising a few eyebrows. It involves a long standing statue in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) which states… and I’m just quoting here… “unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy.”

Alright then. So how did this get in the bill?

As the final Defense authorization bill gets hammered out in conference committee, one surprising issue is riling both social conservatives and animal rights activists: the repeal of a ban on sodomy and bestiality…

But the article is still included in the House bill, and House Republicans want it to remain in the final bill.

News of the bestiality repeal has sparked conservative groups like the Family Research Council to warn of a “campaign to radicalize the country from the Pentagon out,” even if the intent to repeal bestiality wasn’t there. The group likened the repeal to last year’s end of the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” rule on gays serving openly in the military.

“In its rush to accommodate the Left, Congress may have inadvertently opened the door to even more perversion,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement. “In its haste to make gay sex an official part of military life, the Left could be unintentionally repealing the ban on bestiality too.”

Before we get too carried away, this doesn’t seem to be a case of the military suddenly endorsing the idea of marrying your horse. But given recent changes to the rules, they may have made an overly broad deletion to long standing rules. Plus, such offenses would still be covered elsewhere.

The Pentagon, however, says that even if the article in the military code was repealed, having sex with animals would still be covered under different statutes.

“It is difficult to envision a situation where a service member engages in sexual conduct with an animal that would not be conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline or service-discrediting,” said Defense spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale.

This was never the intent of the changes to the code, but clearly we’ll have to drag it out of the barn and into the public courtyard of scrutiny. Closing question: How much would you like to bet that this gets picked up on Letterman and Jon Stewart by Monday night?