Bill Would Alter State Sex Law
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,
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
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