Last edited: December 17, 2003

Virginia Hesitates on Sodomy Repeal

Datalounge, December 7, 2003

RICHMOND, Va.—The state of Virginia needs a new law that complies with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down anti-sodomy statues, but the state should keep its existing sodomy ban as a nonworking, unconstitutional relic, a Republican-dominated state Crime Commission has decided. Removing the state’s more than two-century-old law could doom pending court cases involving people charged or convicted under current Virginia law, commission members warned.

The legislative panel asked a subcommittee to further study options for a new law that brings Virginia into compliance with the Supreme Court’s June ruling. A new law would forbid consenting adults from engaging in sodomy in public places, and keep sex acts with juveniles and prostitutes illegal.

But the commission will recommend to the General Assembly next month that it keep the old sodomy laws on the books.

“The reason we’re going to do that is right now there are several cases working through the court systems in Virginia,” said Kimberly Hamilton, executive director of the Virginia Crime Commission. “The (attorney general’s) office is going to deal with that on an appellate level,” she said.

Virginia law prohibits sodomy between consenting adults, even married couples, although it has not been used against married heterosexuals in years. Violators face up to five years in prison and a $2,500 fine if convicted.

House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith cautioned the panel Wednesday against any new laws to punish sodomy or same-sex contact more severely than intercourse between men and women.

“It’s just silly,” said Arlington Democrat Adam Ebbin, the state’s first openly gay legislator. “Here we are in the 21st century, and Virginia is not quite ready to make the commitment to get into the 20th century.”

[Home] [News] [Virginia]