Richmond, Virginia — The attorney general for the Commonwealth of Virginia is fighting back after a federal appeals court threw out Virginia’s sodomy law, stating that it was unconstitutional.
Last month, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Virginia’s “Crimes Against Nature” ordinance, which prohibits certain types of sexual behaviors, violated the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. The case before the court involved a 17-year-old girl who was being coerced by a 47-year-old man to commit sodomy.
The panel, which consisted of three judges, ruled 2 to 1 that the law did not withstand constitutional scrutiny. It pointed back to the 2003 Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which voided laws against intimate homosexual relations in 13 states. The ruling was largely passed by Republican judges, and was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, appointed by Ronald Reagan.
“The case does involve two adults who, with full and mutual consent from each other, engaged in sexual practices common to a homosexual lifestyle. The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime,” Kennedy wrote. “Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government.”
However, one of the three judges on the 4th Circuit panel disagreed that the Lawrence case applied as it dealt with consenting adults, and the Virginia matter regarded a 17-year-old minor. William Scott MacDonald had been convicted of soliciting a minor to commit a felony — engage in sodomy.
The two judges that tossed Virginia’s anti-sodomy law advised that officials have other ways of dealing with illicit sexual relations with minors, and that those laws should be enforced rather than using a statute that generally was meant to prohibit homosexual acts.
“This case is not about sexual orientation, but using current law to protect a 17-year-old girl from a 47-year-old sexual predator,” Cuccinelli spokeswoman Caroline Gibson said in a statement. “We agree with the dissenting opinion that the petitioner was not entitled to federal habeas corpus relief and the full court should have the opportunity to decide this matter. The attorney general is committed to protecting Virginia’s children from predators who attempt to exploit them and rob them of their childhood.”
However, Cuccinelli, who is currently running for governor of Virginia, has stated in the past that he does oppose homosexual acts.
“My view is that homosexual acts — not homosexuality — but homosexual acts are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong,” he stated. “And I think in a natural law-based country, it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that . . . They don’t comport with natural law.”
“I happen to think that it represents — to put it politely, I need my thesaurus to be polite — behavior that is not healthy to an individual and in aggregate is not healthy to society,” Cuccinelli added.
A spokesman for his Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, blasted him this week over his decision to fight the ruling.
“This is just another example of Ken Cuccinelli ignoring the economy and instead focusing on his divisive ideological agenda,” wrote Josh Schwerin in a statement.
Virginia state Senator Adam Ebbin, an open homosexual, told reporters that he is thinking about officially repealing the law.
“I’m reviewing this and will consider introducing a bill next year to repeal the Virginia Crimes Against Nature law for consenting adults,” he said.
Cuccinelli has filed an appeal in the decision, seeking a full 15-judge review of the case.
Photo: Gage Skidmore