Last edited: February 14, 2005

Minnesota Sodomy Law Challenged

Advocate, June 23, 2000

The Minnesota Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project filed a class-action suit Thursday challenging Minnesota’s sodomy law. The law, which applies to heterosexuals as well as gays and lesbians, makes consensual oral and anal sex punishable by up to one year in prison and $3,000 in fines. "Most Minnesotans don’t realize that the sodomy law applies to them," said MCLU legal counsel Teresa Nelson. "But in fact, this statute criminalizes all oral and anal sex, even when it’s entirely private and noncommercial contact between consenting adults. People of all backgrounds and from across the ideological spectrum ought to be alarmed by this law: It invites the state into every bedroom in Minnesota." A heterosexual man was recently arrested and charged under the sodomy statute. The suit alleges that the law violates privacy rights guaranteed under the Minnesota constitution. The plaintiffs include a lesbian attorney identified in the suit as Jane Doe, who could face eviction from her home because her lease prohibits illegal activity; Phil Duran, a gay law student who lives in an apartment with a similar lease; and Kim Nyhus, a divorced gay man who fears losing visitation rights with his children because of the law. The Minnesota Lavender Bar Association, a group for gay lawyers and law students, is also a plaintiff in the suit. Eighteen states still carry sodomy statutes on the books, including five that pertain only to gays and lesbians. 

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