Last edited: February 14, 2005

Judge Says Minnesota’s Sodomy Repeal Applies to All Adults

The Advocate, July 3, 2001

A Minnesota state judge ruled Monday that every adult in the state is covered under a recent decision that struck down as unconstitutional the state’s prohibition on oral and anal sex. The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit challenging the sodomy statute, had asked state district court judge Delila F. Pierce to technically certify her earlier ruling as a class action, so that there would be no uncertainty about its impact. The state opposed this at a hearing last month. "There can be no question now: Minnesota’s sodomy law has been struck down and cannot be invoked anywhere in the state," said ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project staff attorney Leslie Cooper, who worked on the case with lawyers from the ACLU’s Minnesota state affiliate. Pierce’s initial ruling, handed down in May, struck down the sodomy law as it applied to private, consensual, noncommercial intimacy. The ACLU had filed a lawsuit on behalf of several straight and gay Minnesotans who said the sodomy statute violated the privacy rights they are guaranteed by the state constitution. "This law invited the state into every bedroom in Minnesota, criminalizing some of the most common forms of intimacy between adults," said Minnesota ACLU executive director Charles Samuelson. "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 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 Saint Paul Pioneer Press. But just days later, the state filed legal papers seeking to limit the ruling’s impact.

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