Last edited: December 08, 2004

Ventura Fights Sodomy Ruling Newscenter, June 7, 2001

Minneapolis, MN.—In a legal maneuver attorneys for the state of Minnesota will argue in court today that a recent ruling that said state’s prohibition on oral and anal sex is unconstitutional should not apply to anyone other than the small handful of plaintiffs named in the lawsuit.

The American Civil Liberties Union calls the move "callous and absurd,"

State District Court Judge Delila F. Pierce struck down the sodomy law late last month. The ACLU, which brought the lawsuit challenging the sodomy statute, had requested that the case be technically certified as a class action, to make certain that a favorable ruling would apply to all Minnesotans.

The state decided after the ruling to oppose this, and today judge Pierce will hear arguments from the ACLU and state lawyers.

"This law invited the state into every bedroom in Minnesota, criminalizing some of the most common forms of intimacy between adults," said Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU state affiliate in Minnesota. "It is difficult to imagine a more blatant invasion of privacy."

Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, a defendant in the case along with the attorney general and the state itself, agreed last month on the day the ruling was released. "The judge’s action is consistent with the governor’s principle that there are certain things the government should not have a role in," Ventura spokesman John Wodele told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press.

But just days later, Ventura’s administration filed legal papers seeking to limit the ruling’s impact.

"The sodomy law has been declared unconstitutional—and the state has no good reason to say that it should be unconstitutional for some people, but not everyone," said Matt Coles, Director of the ACLU Lesbian & Gay Rights Project.

In court papers, the state argues that instead of certifying the case as a class action, the court should force the ACLU to amend the initial law suit to name all local law enforcement entities in the state as defendants.

"This is nonsense," said Coles, who has led court challenges to sodomy laws in several states. "The issue here isn’t who ought to be sued but who ought to benefit from the court’s ruling that the law is illegal."

Judge Pierce’s decision striking down the sodomy law noted that the plaintiffs in the case "represent a cross section of Minnesotans impacted by the sodomy statute." The plaintiffs are a half-dozen gay and straight Minnesotans whose jobs, homes and relationships with their children are threatened by the sodomy law.

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