Arizona Lawmakers Want to Save Public From Pornography 'Health Crisis'

Update, January 17, 3:45 p.m.: An Arizona House resolution denouncing pornography as a "public health crisis" is no longer a bipartisan project.

Representative Reginald Bolding, the lone Democratic co-sponsor of the resolution, returned a request for comment on Thursday and claimed that he accidentally put his name on the resolution when it was among a stack of other bills.

"I’m almost embarrassed to say I inadvertently signed that bill," Bolding said.

He has been working with the bill's primary sponsor, Representative Michelle Udall, on several other items of legislation, which is how the pornography resolution ended up on his desk. After Bolding saw on social media that the resolution identified him as a co-sponsor, he had his name removed from the bill, he said. "I’m not even sure about the origins of the bill," Bolding said.

When asked if he supports the goals of the pornography resolution, Bolding said that the Legislature has more important things to focus on. "We have water, we have education, we have criminal justice reform," he said.

"This wouldn’t be in my top 10 of things," he added.

Original story continues below:

A group of Arizona lawmakers have filed a resolution denouncing pornography as a "public health crisis."

The concurrent resolution filed in the House of Representatives this week by a group of mostly Republican legislators says that pornography is responsible for a variety of deleterious effects on society and the individual.

The resolution describes pornography as "a crisis leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts," one that "perpetuates a sexually toxic environment that damages all areas of our society."

A list of nine statements in the resolution claim there are far-reaching negative effects of pornography.

The resolution describes the potentially addictive nature of pornography, the normalization of "violence and the abuse of women and children by treating them as objects," the "hyper-sexualization of teens and even children," and the "alarming" rate of children who are exposed to pornography due to access to the internet.

Additionally, according to the resolution, pornography harms families and interpersonal relationships. Pornography "has an adverse effect on the family as it is correlated with decreased desire in young men to marry, dissatisfaction in marriage and infidelity," the resolution states.

The resolution's primary sponsor is Representative Michelle Udall, a Mesa Republican who chairs the House Education Committee and represents District 25. She did not respond to a request for comment on the resolution.

Her co-sponsors are Nancy Barto, Leo Biasiucci, Walter Blackman, Reginald Bolding (the only Democratic co-sponsor), Regina Cobb, Joanne Osborne, and T.J. Shope.

Because HCR 2009 is merely a resolution, the measure would be almost entirely symbolic if approved by the full House and Senate.

Even so, the resolution would affirm that Arizona legislators are committed to counteracting what they believe to be the myriad negative effects of pornography. "T]his state and the nation must systemically prevent exposure and addiction to pornography, educate individuals and families about its harms and develop pornography recovery programs," the resolution states.

Yellow Sheet editor Hank Stephenson of the Arizona Capitol Times spotted the bill. On Twitter, he noted the bipartisan nature of the resolution – Bolding serves as the co-whip for the House Democrats. Bolding did not respond to a request for comment. 
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Joseph Flaherty is a staff writer at New Times. Originally from Wisconsin, he is a graduate of Middlebury College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Contact: Joseph Flaherty