Strike Sodomy Statutes
Times-Dispatch, July 17, 2003
Box 85333, Richmond, VA, 23293-0001
Fax: 804-775-8072 or 775-8090
Whitley, Times-Dispatch Staff Writer
Crime Commission subcommittee voted with little debate yesterday to recommend
that the state change its sodomy laws to conform with a recent U.S. Supreme
Texas sodomy case was a clear ruling, like it or not,” said Del. Robert F.
McDonnell, R-Virginia Beach, chairman of the subcommittee. “We can’t have
the Virginia militia march on the Supreme Court in Washington” to undo the
ruling, he added.
Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, the House of Delegates majority leader, voiced
don’t agree with the Supreme Court’s opinion,” he said. “We ought not
to take it off the books.”
suggested that the subcommittee, which is revising the state’s criminal
code, address merely the legal aspects of the ruling, not the policy. The
subcommittee has a responsibility to recommend changes to state laws that have
been found to be unconstitutional, whether or not the General Assembly goes
along with those recommendations, he said.
members suggested that the General Assembly might not.
recent ruling, the Supreme Court overturned a Texas statute that made
homosexual sodomy in a private home a crime.
Petoe, director of legal affairs for the crime commission, said the state’s
crimes-against-nature, or sodomy, statute and its fornication statute which
forbids sex between unmarried persons are probably unconstitutional. Less
clear is whether statutes banning cohabitation and adultery are also
unconstitutional, he said.
suggestion of committee member Lane Kneedler the subcommittee recommended that
the sodomy, cohabitation and adultery statutes be kept on the books but
amended to make sure the illegality applies to public behavior and not private
behavior. The subcommittee recommended that the fornication statute be
Supreme Court left us the ability to criminalize such behavior in public
places,” Court of Appeals Judge Robert J. Humphreys said.
subcommittee’s recommendations will be presented later this year to the full
who is seeking the GOP nomination to run for attorney general, drew criticism
from gay rights activists this year when he suggested that homosexual or
lesbian behavior might disqualify a person from serving as a judge in Virginia
because such behavior is against the law.
a reporter if he had ever violated the sodomy statute, McDonnell said, “Not
that I can recall.”
said later that he had responded inartfully to a reporter’s question.
emphasized early in the meeting yesterday that the subcommittee should take up
the sodomy statute quickly and move on to other business. It did, moving on to
discussion of robbery and burglary laws.
[Home] [News] [Virginia]