Last edited: February 14, 2005

Sodomy Showdown Heats Up In Virginia

Rainbow Talk, January 13, 1999
For Immediate Release
Contact: Keith Blackburn
(202) 244-2023

Religious Right Files FCC Complaint Against Radio Station - Commonwealth's Attorney Ignores Sodomy Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A gay activist's dare to Virginia authorities to prosecute him under state sodomy laws - broadcast live on the radio - has sparked outrage from the Religious Right, promises of more public action by the radio host, and a promise to ignore the law by a Commonwealth's Attorney.

On December 23, gay activist Frank Kameny made a bold dare to Virginia authorities. Appearing on Rainbow Talk, a gay issues radio show hosted by Keith Blackburn, Kameny openly invited adult listeners to join him in an act of sodomy, challenging Virginia's statute against the act.

Blackburn's show, Rainbow Talk is broadcast by WZHF-AM 1390, and hosted in Alexandria, Virginia. Sodomy is a felony in Virginia, even between consenting adults, and punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

According to the Washington Post, a California-based anti-gay group filed a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), accusing the radio station of breaking the law. "We support the sodomy statute in Virginia and we felt this was a new startling use of the media," The FCC has pretty tough standards for [Don] Imus and [shockjock Howard] Stern and this exceeds anything on the Stern show." Traditional Values Coalition spokesman James Lafferty told the Post. "It's still a felony in the state of Virginia," said Lafferty. The Coalition's FCC complaint charged the station was "party to a commission of a felony."

Blackburn says the conservative group's actions amount to censorship. "People have the right to come on my show and discuss issues that affect them," said Blackburn. "They think Ken Starr's report should be read aloud up people for private consensual acts, and they want Big Brother to shut me down."

Blackburn has his own response to the coalition. "I'm going to unveil a dramatic series of on-air challenges and other actions in the coming weeks," promised Blackburn. "The Traditional Values Coalition had better prepare for their ears to burn, because the truth hurts, and we're going to put the truth out more forcefully than ever. "We're talking about laws that make 90+% of the adult Virginia population (gay and straight) felons!" With archaic laws like this on the books, good and decent tax-paying Americans can be arrested and imprisoned. "I'm going to challenge that injustice until it ends."

"Hopefully, we'll quickly move from a question of whether we should have these laws on the books to whether they can be enforced at all," said Blackburn. "Either way, I'm not going to allow that discussion to be censored."

Ironically, however, one Virginia official may have accomplished that goal already. In response to the original on-air dare, Virginia Commonwealth's Attorney for Arlington, Richard Trodden, refused to enforce the law, saying he will not charge Kameny for soliciting sodomy, the Post reported.

The Virginia battle comes just as two men in Houston face prosecution after police entered their bedroom and discovered the couple engaged in sexual relations. According to the Associated Press, John Geddes Lawrence, 55, and Tyrone Garner, 31, were arrested Sept. 17 for engaging in homosexual conduct. According to Associated Press (AP), the couple was arrested after local deputies, responding to a report of an armed intruder, found the men in Lawrence's apartment engaged in consensual sex.

In a related development, the Georgia Supreme Court threw out that state's anti-sodomy law just three days after Garner and Lawrence entered their first no-contest pleas in Texas.

In addition to Virginia, at least fifteen other states maintain various laws that prohibit acts of sodomy between consenting adults. Some make only same- sex acts illegal; others make sodomy between anyone a felony. Many use these laws as a means of discriminating in areas of housing, employment, and child custody, among others. Now is the time to put an end to our government dictating what two consenting adults can do in the privacy of their own home.


Rainbow Talk, hosted by Keith Blackburn, can be heard in Washington, D.C. Wednesdays at 3:00pm Eastern on WHZF AM 1390.

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