Sodomy Bill Endorsed House Gives Tentative OK To Lessen Penalties
February 15, 2000
Box 85333, Richmond, VA, 23293-0001
Fax: 804-775-8072 or 775-8090
By Pamela Stallsmith, Times-Dispatch Staff Writer
In a session that extended well into the night, the House of Delegates gave tentative
approval to measures that would lessen penalties in the states centuries-old sodomy
law and establish a "sunshine office" where residents could resolve disputes
about access to public records.
The House plowed through a hefty docket as it scrambled to meet todays deadline
for acting on its more than 1,500 bills and resolutions this session. Todays
"crossover" date marks the halfway point of the 60-day session, which ends March
The sodomy bill, pushed by Del. L. Karen Darner, D-Arlington, would reduce from a
felony to a misdemeanor a charge of sodomy between consenting adults. It would apply to
homosexuals and heterosexuals. Her measure passed in a voice vote and will be given final
"Most people do not know it is a felonious crime, with a one- to five-year
possible jail sentence and a $2,500 fine," said Darner, who has backed the measure
for about eight years. If convicted, people "could lose their professional licenses
and lose their right to vote. You might say its rarely enforced, but I say its
Once all states had anti-sodomy laws on the books, she said. Now fewer than 20 do.
"Lets wake up to the reality," she said. "A private act of love
that occurs every day in homes across the commonwealth" should not be a felony. . . .
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