Last edited: December 19, 2004

Bill Would Alter State Sex Law

Washington Post, February 14, 2000
Metro In Brief

Compiled from reports by staff writers Cindy Loose, Caryle Murphy and
Jacqueline L. Salmon and the Associated Press.


A House of Delegates committee endorsed legislation yesterday that would make oral sex between consenting adults a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

The Courts of Justice Committee sent the bill to the House floor as several legislative panels cleared their dockets with the aim of meeting tomorrow's deadline for each chamber to act on its own bills.

Del. L. Karen Darner (D-Arlington) has tried several times to repeal the state's "crimes against nature" law, which applies to all consenting adults--homosexual and heterosexual--who engage in oral sex in public or private. Violating the law is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. Felons also lose their voting rights, Darner noted.

The committee wouldn't go along with decriminalizing the sex act but did agree to make it a lesser offense punishable only by a fine of up to $250. Darner said she was satisfied with the decision.

"My feeling is I would still like to have it decriminalized, but this is at least a recognition that the current law is outrageous," Darner said after the panel voted 13 to 8 to endorse the bill.

The Virginia Court of Appeals agreed in December to review the constitutionality of the law.

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