Last edited: December 17, 2004

Appeal of Virginia Sodomy Law Argued

Richmond Times-Dispatch, September 12, 2000
Box 85333, Richmond, VA, 23293-0001
Fax 804-775-8072 or 775-8090

RICHMOND, Va. (AP)—A lawyer representing 10 gay men convicted of soliciting undercover police officers for sex has told a state appeals court that Virginia’s sodomy law should be struck down because it is "broken a million times a night in this state."

But a lawyer for the state told a three-judge panel of the Virginia Court of Appeals on Tuesday that the private conduct of married couples has nothing to do with efforts by Roanoke authorities to combat "cruising" by homosexual men in a city park.

Under Virginia law, oral sex between adults—whether homosexual or heterosexual, in public or in private—is "crime against nature" that carries up to five years in prison.

Sam Garrison, the attorney for the gay men, said evidence in the case "is replete with statements by people—men, women, married, unmarried, straight, gay—that they engage in this conduct."

But Senior Assistant Attorney General John McLees said the court has to consider the law in the context of its use.

"What relationship do these homosexual cruisers have with married people acting in private?" he asked. "None. None whatsoever."

The appeals panel is expected to rule by the end of the year.

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