Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is pushing a federal appeals court to overturn a ruling by a divided three-judge panel which declared the state’s anti-sodomy law unconstitutional.
Sodomy refers to all sexual acts that are non-penile/vaginal, including oral and anal sex as well as sex between people and animals. Sodomy laws often target sex between same-sex partners.
A 2005 ruling in Virginia convicted William Scott Donald, then 47, for criminal solicitation of a 17-year-old girl for oral sex, sodomy, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The minor initially refused to report the incident to the authorities after MacDonald claimed the girl had sexually assaulted him.
The felony charge falls under Virginia’s Crimes Against Nature law, a provision of which criminalizes sodomy.
“If this 47 year-old man weren’t convicted of the felony sodomy statute, he would only have been convicted of misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor,” said Brian J. Gottstein, a spokesperson for Cuccinelli. “We know of no felony charge that would apply to the facts of this case other than the class six felonies he was charged with for soliciting the 17 year-old victim.”
Acts of sodomy were considered a felony in every state in America prior to 1969. Virginia’s statue dates back to 1778, when Thomas Jefferson wrote a law in Virginia punishing men by castration for engaging in sodomy.
In 2003, the United States Supreme Court reversed all sodomy laws in the country in the case Lawrence v. Texas except those in 14 states: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
Gottstein said most media accounts detailing Cuccineli’s push to overturn the ruling and keep the laws have misrepresented his motives.
“This case has nothing to do with sexual orientation or private sexual acts between consenting adults. It’s about using current law to protect a 17 year-old girl from a 47 year-old sexual predator,” said Gottstein. “The attorney general is committed to protecting Virginia’s children from predators who attempt to exploit them and rob them of their childhood. We agree with the dissenting judge that the petitioner was not entitled to federal habeas corpus relief and the full court should have the opportunity to decide this matter.”
Cuccinelli is scheduled to officially become the Republican nominee in this year’s Virginia governor’s race at the GOP convention on May 18.