Last edited: December 05, 2004

House Panel Votes to Keep Law Against Sodomy

Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, January 20, 2001
P.O. Box 449, Norfolk, VA 23501-0449
Fax: 757 446-2051

By Matthew Dolan, The Virginian-Pilot

RICHMOND — A House panel voted Friday to keep Virginia’s law banning oral sex and sodomy between consenting adults, despite arguments that act is unenforceable and discriminates against homosexuals.

The House of Delegates’ Courts of Justice Committee voted 13-9 against legislation that would have repealed the law making those acts a felony. Last year, a similar bill to change the law passed in the House for the first time and was defeated in the Senate. It would have reduced the sex crime to a class 4 misdemeanor and lowered the maximum penalty from $2,500 with incarceration to $250 without any jail time.

This year’s measure, which sought to strike the crime from the books for consenting adults acting in private, sparked a heated debate in the committee Friday. The legislation would have kept restrictions on oral sex and sodomy for those under age 18 or those who commit those acts in public. Repealing the ban against sodomy would encourage homosexuality and "unravel the moral fabric of the Commonwealth of Virginia," said Del. Richard H. "Dick" Black, R-Loudoun.

Black described a boyhood incident when he was temporarily kidnapped while hitchhiking by a driver who made homosexual advances against Black and a friend.

"So I’m very sensitive to the web of protections for children and public decency," he said.

Other opponents acknowledged that the current law is unenforceable, but said they did not want to appear to condone the sex acts.

The bill’s patron, Del. Robert J. Moran, D-Alexandria, said that those comments exposed the true nature of the opposition to the bill — a bigotry against gays.

"This bill only applies to consenting adults," Moran said. "Frankly, I’m amazed by the debate that has gone on."

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