House Panel Votes to Keep Law Against Sodomy
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 Virginias 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that would have repealed the law making those acts a felony.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 years 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 Im 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 bills 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,
Im amazed by the debate that has gone on."
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