to Try 26 for Sodomy Despite Supreme Court
365Gay.com, August 19,
Brandt, 365Gay.com Newscenter, Washington Bureau
arrested for having sex in a Harrisonburg, Virginia adult bookstore will be
tried on sodomy charges despite a US Supreme Court ruling in June striking
down the laws.
The men were
indicted July 21, about a month after the Supreme Court ruling. Police said
the arrests followed a three-month investigation into goings on at the
spokesperson Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore said the court ruling
only applies to sex acts in private. Kilgore believes the Supreme Court
decision does not preclude prosecutions for public sodomy or solicitation to
Commonwealth’s Attorney Marsha Garst said the men who were arrested were not
targeted because they are gay. Police would have cracked down on the activity
just as strongly had heterosexuals been having sex in a public place such as a
bookstore, she said.
not cite any instances where heterosexuals have been charged under the law
since the Supreme Court ruling.
experts say the state is skating on thin ice. Virginia’s “Crimes Against
Nature” statute, does not distinguish between public and private activity.
Lawyers say that in light of the Supreme Court ruling the state law, as it is
written, is unenforceable even against public sodomy.
executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, told the
Roanoke Times, “Our interpretation is that any charges under the sodomy law
are invalid at this point.” Other misdemeanor charges were available to the
police, he said, including lewd and lascivious cohabitation, obscene
exhibitions and indecent exposure.
executive director of Equality Virginia, a homosexual rights organization,
suggested that the indictments reflect the underlying discriminatory nature of
the statute. “My concern [is] that this law can still be used to harass and
intimidate gay men,” she told the paper.
A trial date
in the case has not been set.
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