Last edited: February 14, 2005

Attorney General Will Not Appeal Sodomy Ruling

Minneapolis Star Tribune, September 1, 2001
425 Portland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Fax: 612-673-4359

Associated Press Statewire

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office will not appeal a district judge’s ruling that every adult in Minnesota is covered under her recent decision that the state’s sodomy law was unconstitutional.

The deadline to appeal was Friday.

"Because of the non-appeal, it’s over," said Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union, which helped start the lawsuit challenging the state’s sodomy law.

Hennepin County District Judge Delila Pierce ruled in May that the state’s ban on oral sex and other intimacy between consenting adults violated privacy rights under the Minnesota Constitution.

Alan Gilbert, chief deputy attorney general, said they consulted with Gov. Jesse Ventura’s office and decided an appeal would be "lacking in merit."

"We just think that the legal principles of the court are soundly based," Gilbert said.

Critics say Attorney General Mike Hatch was failing to do his public duty by not appealing.

"When the laws of the state are being attacked, he should defend them, and he should defend them to the end," said attorney Greg Wersal, who helped lead an unsuccessful bid to recall Hatch on claims his defense of the sodomy law was inadequate.

The plaintiffs in the case were a broad group of gay and straight Minnesotans whose jobs, homes or relationships with their children were threatened by the sodomy law, MnCLU officials said.

In July, Pierce certified her ruling as a class action so there would be no doubt that it applied throughout the state.

However, Jordan Lorence, who said he was acting as attorney for the Minnesota Family Council, said the class-action status will not necessarily keep city and county attorneys from prosecuting sodomy cases.

"I don’t think they’ve knocked the law off the books the way they’ve intended to do," he said.

Minneapolis attorney Timothy Branson, who represented the eight people who challenged the law, agreed that local prosecutors are not barred from bringing sodomy cases. But he said the Hennepin County ruling will give defendants "more than a 90 percent chance" of prevailing.

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