Last edited: February 14, 2005

Minnesota Battling Court’s Sodomy Law Ruling

Datalounge, June 5, 2001

MINNEAPOLIS, MN — The American Civil Liberties Union is blasting as "callous and absurd" a move by lawyers representing the state of Minnesota to limit the overturning of the state’s sodomy law to the seven plaintiff’s who named in the lawsuit. State District Court Judge Delila F. Pierce struck down the sodomy law in late May. The ACLU, which brought the lawsuit, requested that the case be technically certified as a class action applicable to all Minnesotans. Quite unexpectedly, the state decided to stand in opposition to the motion, long considered little more than a legal formality.

The office of Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura released a statement last month agreeing with the decision reached by the court. "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 days later, the Ventura administration filed papers seeking to limit the ruling’s impact to the individuals named in the original suit.

"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 of the ACLU’s 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 lawsuit 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."

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