US family lobby up in arms about the 'legalisation of bestiality'

There is worrying news for Lance Corporal Belleau Wood, the official "base mascot" at the recruit depot in San Diego where members of the US Marine Corps undergo their basic training.

Like many of her peers, L/Cpl Wood is a dog. An English bulldog, to be precise. And now that gays and lesbians can serve openly in the armed forces, she'll be forced to cope with some unwanted sexual attention.

So says America's noisy family values lobby, at least. They claim that Barack Obama's controversial decision to repeal "Don't ask, don't tell" has inadvertently made bestiality legal in the US military. This extraordinary claim stems from a vote in the US Senate last week to strike out Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which has hitherto directed that troops who engage in sodomy must be subjected to a court martial. The article in question reads: "Any person ... who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy."

Since it's now defunct, a collection of conservative agitators is hitting the airwaves to argue that the President and his ungodly cohorts have accidentally legalised bestiality. They include Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council. "In its rush to accommodate the left, Congress may have opened the door to even more perversion," he declared. The Republican Presidential candidate, Michele Bachmann, told Glenn Beck: "It's absolutely abhorrent."

Their complaints appear groundless, however. Legal experts said that, despite the repeal of Article 125, bestiality remains verboten in the US military. Soldiers who interfere with animals are usually prosecuted under article number 134 of the UCMJ, which forbids "conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces".

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