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.
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