Last edited: February 14, 2005

Sodomy, Solicitation, and Civil Disobedience

From: Franklin E. Kameny

December 26, 1998

About 25 years ago, in an action which has achieved a certain notoriety, in order to confront a pattern of persistent police misconduct in their soliciting solicitations for sodomy upon which arrests were then made, and also, in the hope of creating a test case with which to challenge the anti-sodomy law itself, I sent letters to our three top Washington, DC law enforcement officials, the US Attorney, the Corporation Counsel, and the Chief of Police, soliciting them to engage with me in acts of sodomy criminalized by our then-existent DC anti-sodomy law. While this did not have the immediate effect of ridding us of the sodomy law itself (that came, but much later), it did substantially end the arrests for solicitation here in Washington, then and ever since. Suitably modified for the particular situation, and aggressively implemented, it is a tactic which I have recommended frequently over the years, although all-too-few have followed up on it.

The purpose of this posting is to inform you that on Wednesday afternoon, December 23, 1998, during a gay radio program on an Alexandria, Virginia radio station, I solicited to engage in sodomy with me the entire adult population of the state of Virginia, with particular emphasis upon all prosecutors, police chiefs and police officers, and judges in the state. The precise wording of my solicitation and the challenge which accompanied it are as follows [It was preceded by a brief statement identifying me by name, and explaining the meaning and coverage of the Virginia sodomy law, and the fact that given the near-universality of oral sodomy, that law makes habitual, recidivist, repetitive felons of virtually the entire adult population of Virginia, gay and non-gay alike]:

"I hereby solicit, urge, entreat, and invite every person in the state of Virginia of the age of 18 years or above, to engage with me in an act of sodomy of his or her 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. This solicitation includes, but certainly is not limited to all police chiefs and police officers, other law enforcement officials, prosecutors under whatever formal title, and judges in the state of Virginia, with particular emphasis on police and other officials in the cities of Charlottesville and Roanoke, where there have been eplsodes of numbers of arrests for solicitation for sodomy in recent months.

"If I am prosecuted for this solicitation, I will fight it with intent to achieve the striking down of the Virginia sodomy law. If I am not prosecuted, then a precedent will have been set, since if I can solicit everyone in Virginia for sodomy, including all of its law enforcement officials, with impunity and without arrest and prosecution, then anyone in Virginia can solicit anyone for sodomy without fear of arrest and prosecution, and that precedent will be publicized and utilized.

"And so I say to Virginia law enforcement officials and judges: What're you going to do about it, boys and girls?"

I strongly urge the adoption of similar tactics in jurisdictions where there are problems with relevant police abuses or, simply, where there are still anti-sodomy laws on the books, with the two complementary goals of (1) creating test cases, and (2) bringing into ridicule and contempt the sodomy and solicitation laws and embarrassing those named, identified individuals enforcing them, and making public laughing stocks of them. Solicit everyone! If there is a particular police officer who is making arrests, send him signed solicitations and arrange encounters so that he can jeeringly be solicited directly, in public, and by groups of people en masse. Solicit police chiefs, mayors, governors, and other public officials, all to the accompaniment of as much publicity as can be mustered. If someone can get onto national radio or television, solicit the entire adult population of the United States -- or at least, of those states still retaining anti-sodomy laws. Groups of activists should march into police stations with the television cameras in tow (if that can be arranged) and solicit every police officer in sight for sodomy. Tweak the judicial system by soliciting judges and prosecutors in open court; in propriety, judges and prosecutors so solicited must recuse the disqualify themselves (upon conflict of interest and other grounds, as the "victims" of the defendants before them), leaving no one to try the cases if the thing is done right by also sending written, signed solicitations to every judge and prosecutor in the jurisdiction. With a little determination, planning, organization, and ingenuity, the entire legal structure supporting sodomy and solicitation laws, and prosecutions under them, can be wrecked to the accompaniment of much fun and games. Go to it!! Drop the hang-dog, bowed-head, ashamed reaction to soliciting for sodomy and accusations thereof and arrests therefor, and make a vast joke of it.

Solicit, solicit, solicit!!! Publicize. Put these states, their homophobic officials, and their archaic laws "on trial via the media".

Post Script: There have been no takers of my invitation to date, and no official responses. It's still a bit early, so we shall see. This was done over a small radio station, during an off time, with a limited audience. Perhaps I and/or others will have to do it again over a station or channel with a larger audience, at a better time, if all that can be arranged.

Frank Kameny

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