MCLU Suing to Overturn Minnesotas Sodomy Law
Associated Press, June 22, 2000
By Steve Karnowski
A state law that makes oral and anal sex a crime is unconstitutional and should be
thrown out, the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union claimed in a lawsuit filed Thursday.
The MCLU and the Lesbian and Gay Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union
are challenging Minnesotas sodomy statute, saying the law violates the right of
privacy guaranteed by the state constitution.
The law which applies to all consenting adults, even married couples
makes violations punishable by up to a year in prison and up to $3,000 in fines.
"Most Minnesotans dont realize that the sodomy statute applies to
them," said Teresa Nelson, an MCLU attorney. "But, in fact, this statute
criminalizies all oral and anal sex, even when its entirely private and
noncommercial conduct between consenting adults. People of all backgrounds and from across
the ideological spectrum ought to be alarmed by this law. It invites the state into every
bedroom in Minnesota."
The class-action lawsuit, filed in Hennepin County, asks the court to declare the
statute void and prevent the state from enforcing it.
The plaintiffs include two married heterosexuals who say they risk prosecution, a
lesbian who fears eviction because her lease prohibits illegal activity, a gay law student
who fears being disbarred, a divorced gay man who fears losing his right to visit his
children, and a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered lawyers and law
According to the MCLU, 18 states still have sodomy statutes, down from all 50 in 1961.
In five of those states, the law applies only to homosexuals. Legislatures have repealed
sodomy laws in 25 states, while courts have overturned them in others. In one of the most
recent cases, an appeals court in Texas voided that states sodomy law two weeks ago.
Attorney General Mike Hatch was out of state and unavailable for comment on the
lawsuit, said his spokeswoman, Leslie Sandberg.
"Weve received the complaint and are reviewing it," she said.
Tom Prichard, executive director of the Minnesota Family Council, which has helped
fight off attempts to repeal the law at the Legislature, said the law should stay on the
books, and he criticized the MCLU for filing the lawsuit.
"Theyre trying to do an end run by getting the courts to strike it down
instead of going through the appropriate channel, which is the Legislature," Prichard
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