Hennepin County Judge Finds Sodomy Law Unconstitutional
May 21, 2001
By Pam Louwagie
Civil libertarians today hailed a Hennepin County District Court ruling
that declared unconstitutional a Minnesota law banning sodomy because it
violated rights to privacy.
Teresa Nelson, legal counsel for the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union (MCLU),
said the group had been working at repealing this law for 20 years.
"At its core this case is about keeping the government out of our most
private lives," Nelson said today at a news conference.
In June, the MCLU began a lawsuit challenging the law, which considered
anal and oral sex unlawful even when its private and between consenting
adults. The statute, which has been on the books since the 19th century, calls
for a penalty of a year in prison and a $3,000 fine.
The law put lawyers, renters and others who take oaths to be lawful, in a
position of possibly violating it, some at todays news conference said.
"Proof of whats going on in your bedroom is not the only
issue," MCLU President Mike Goldner said.
The ruling issued Thursday by District Judge Delila Pierce doesnt affect
such things as prostitution or rape. It applies to noncommercial, private
Minnesota is the 35th state to act against such laws, supporters of the
"Its a happy day that Minnesota is catching up," said Joni
Thome, president of the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association, which is for
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lawyers and law students. "All
Minnesotans should be happy because now what we deem to be private is actually
MCLU officials said they were disappointed that it took this long in
Minnesota, which is normally known as a leader in privacy issues.
Pam Louwagie is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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