Last edited: February 14, 2005

Sodomy Ruling Applies to Every Adult in Minnesota Newscenter, July 3, 2001

Minneapolis, MN — A state judge Monday ruled that every adult in the state is covered under a recent decision that struck down as unconstitutional Minnesota’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 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 & Gay Rights Project staff attorney Leslie Cooper, who worked on the case with lawyers from the ACLU’s Minnesota state affiliate.

NGLTF Executive Director Lorri L. Jean said. "For centuries, sodomy laws have been used as a weapon against the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, sometimes with very tragic results."

Pierce’s initial ruling, handed down in May, struck down the sodomy law as it applied to private, consensual, non-commercial intimacy.

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 St. Paul Pioneer-Press. But just days later, the state filed legal papers seeking to limit the ruling’s impact.

"The sodomy law was declared unconstitutional — and the state had no good reason to say that it should be unconstitutional for some people, but not everyone," Samuelson said. "We’re pleased that the court agreed, and put this question to rest."

Four states — Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri — have sodomy laws that single out same-sex relationships, although Missouri’s law has been struck down by a lower court. 11 other states have sodomy laws that outlaw some forms of both heterosexual and homosexual activity.

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