Last edited: February 14, 2005

Soliciting for Sodomy

From: Franklin E. Kameny

May 15, 1999

From time to time, in one jurisdiction or another, come reports of activity by police plainclothesmen, usually in parks, in which they solicit solicitations for sodomy in order then to make arrests for the solicitations that they have solicited.

Such practices prevailed in Washington, DC many years ago. Old timers may recall that in order to address and confront this, in 1972, I sent in written, signed letters to our three top law enforcement authorities: The Chief of Police, the Corporation Counsel, and the United States Attorney, soliciting them for sodomy. I pointed out that if they prosecuted me, this would lead to a test case challenge to the sodomy law (this was pre-Hardwick); if they did not prosecute then they would be setting up an Equal Protection precedent, since if, with impunity and without arrest, I could solicit our three top law enforcement officials, then anyone could solicit anyone, and defense attorneys would be informed. They did not prosecute, such police solicitations ceased shortly thereafter, and we have had no such problems since.

I have urged that similar activist tactics be adopted in other jurisdictions, including having groups of people march into police stations, with television cameras and/or reporters following (if that can be arranged) and solicit every police officer in sight, and that judges and prosecutors be solicited in open court by defendants or spectators (which would raise issues of recusal of judges and disqualification of prosecutors because of conflict of interest.)

Such a situation has currently arisen in Roanoke, Virginia. Solicitation for a felony (sodomy) is itself a felony in Virginia. Eighteen defendants are currently about to be tried for such verbal solicitations for oral sodomy made to police officers in a local public park. To my understanding, there is question as to where the sodomy itself was to occur; at least some of the defendants claim that it was not specified, and others specifically claim that it was to occur in their private homes. The judges handling the cases thus far have just upheld the Virginia sodomy law, on the basis of Hardwick, and have consigned the 18 defendants to felony prosecutions on the basis solely of verbal solicitations for oral sodomy.

I have just mailed signed letters to the two judges involved, to the Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney prosecuting the cases, and to the Roanoke Chief of Police, soliciting them for sodomy. My solicitations read as follows:

"I hereby solicit, urge, entreat, and invite each of you individually to engage with me in an act or acts of sodomy of your choice and as defined by Section 18.2-361 of the Virginia Code, in some indisputably private place in the state of Virginia, at a time of our mutual convenience."

I pointed out that no distinction is made in Virginia law between solicitations for sodomy effected in public places and communicated by word of mouth, and such solicitations effected in the privacy of official offices communicated by mail.



Obviously there is nothing particularly sacred about my particular framing of the solicitation; write it as you choose; it can be limited to oral sodomy if you wish; cite the statute number; sign it and include your address. The four officials and their addresses are:

The Honorable Richard Pattisall
Roanoke Circuit Judge
Roanoke City Courthouse
315 Church Avenue, S.W.
PO Box 211
Roanoke, Virginia 24002

The Honorable Robert P. Doherty
Roanoke Circuit Judge
Roanoke City Courthouse
315 Church Avenue . S.W.
PO Box 211
Roanoke, Virginia 24002

Ms. Alice Ekirch
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney
315 Church Avenue, S.W.
Roanoke, Virginia 24016

Chief Atlas "Joe" Gaskins
Roanoke Police Department
309 Third street, S.W.
Roanoke, Virginia 24011

The Roanoke Times newspaper has been following these cases, and will be doing an article on my solicitations and the reactions, if any, of the four officials. They have been told that this Internet appeal is going out for others, the country over, similarly to solicit. I hope that many of you will do so. Swamping these officials with sodomy solicitations can be a fun thing, which might make an impact by both forcing the issue and ridiculing it. It is to be hoped that this can be escalated into an overturn of Virginia's antiquated anti-sodomy law, which makes habitual, repetitive, recidivist felons of almost the entire adult population of Virginia.

Frank Kameny

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