Last edited: December 19, 2004

Gay Man Propositions Four Virginia Officials To Challenge Sodomy Law

Associated Press, May 21, 1999

ROANOKE, VA - A gay activist invited four of Roanoke's top law enforcement officials to join him in a private act of sodomy, arguing if they don't prosecute him they are wrong in prosecuting 18 men charged with seeking gay sex in a city park.

Franklin Kameny, 74, a longtime gay activist in Washington, D.C., sent letters last week to Circuit Judges Richard Pattisall and Robert Doherty, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Alice Ekirch and Police Chief Atlas "Joe" Gaskins.

The goal of the letters, he said in a telephone interview Friday, is to bring attention to "these antiquated sodomy laws in Virginia ... which make felons of virtually every adult member of the populous of the state."

"It raises the question that if they've been solicited and they don't respond, how can they charge other people for soliciting?" he said.

The four letter recipients have either ruled in the park sex cases or been involved in prosecuting the men.

Ekirch said Friday that she believes the letter she received does violate the law against solicitation. She declined to comment further, citing the ongoing cases. The other recipients also have declined to comment.

Kameny was not prosecuted after he went on an Alexandria gay issues radio show in December and solicited the entire state of Virginia for sodomy.

For years, Roanoke police have brought misdemeanor charges against "cruisers" who sought anonymous gay sex in the park and other public places. Police said complaints from citizens about blatant sexual activity in Wasena Park led them to seek felony sodomy indictments against the men in the latest cases.

In his letter, Kameny invited the four officials "to engage with me in an act or acts of sodomy of your 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."

Kameny wrote that the letter would be "published and publicized, with intent to embarrass each of you individually and by name, and to bring you into public contempt and ridicule nationally, as well as to make a contemptible laughingstock of your benighted, barbaric, backward state."

The letter is similar to one Kameny wrote to Washington officials in 1972 as part of a three-decade movement to have the district's sodomy law repealed. It finally was repealed in 1993, with Kameny writing the statute.

Kameny said he "would be absolutely delighted" to be arrested because it would afford him the opportunity to make a media circus of a probable extradition hearing in Washington, and each subsequent hearing in the case.

In open court, he said, he would solicit the judge for sex, forcing him to disqualify himself from the case, and continue soliciting every judge brought in to hear the case until no state judges remained eligible.

Kameny also has posted e-mails on the Internet urging others to solicit law enforcement personnel in Roanoke.

"You push whenever you have the opportunity and hope something comes of it," he said.

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