Senate sends marital sexual assault bill to governor’s desk

A bill clarifying the definition of rape to include acts within or without the bonds of matrimony is on its way to the governor’s desk. House Bill 2666, by Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, passed the Senate unanimously Wednesday.
 “Domestic violence is a serious problem in our state and, unfortunately, so is being sexually victimized while married,” Garvin said. “Just because a couple is married, neither party has the right to force themselves on their spouse. House Bill 2666 clarifies this important distinction in statute to ensure those who victimize their spouse are held accountable.”
 The state’s current definition of rape describes the sexual act as taking place with a male or female who is not the spouse of the perpetrator.
 According to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 686,000 women in the U.S. are raped annually. In Oklahoma, 49% of women and 40% of men have experienced intimate partner violence at some time in their lives. The survey found that nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the U.S. have been raped at some time in their lives. More than half of female victims reported being raped by an intimate partner.
 House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, is the bill’s principal House author.
 “I was glad to work with the Domestic Violence Coalition and the other members who overwhelmingly supported this bill to better protect the victims of this horrific crime,” Echols said.
 HB 2666 was requested by the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (OCADVSA)
 “More than half of female victims report being raped by an intimate partner according to the National Intimate Parter and Sexual Violence Survey,” said Mackenzie Masilon, OCADVSA legislative liaison. “We thank the bill authors for recognizing this and giving all survivors of sexual assault the ability to seek justice through the courts.”
 If signed by the governor, HB 2666 would go into effect on November 1, 2021.