In the final months of his campaign, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli made consensual sodomy the focal point of his crusade as the Republican governor nominee.
Virginia’s Crimes Against Nature law, which bans oral and anal sex, was deemed unconstitutional by the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on March 12. The anti-sodomy statute, would have applied to “any person” that “carnally knows any male or female person by the anus or by with the mouth.”
This law was rightly discarded, as it was out of date and overly broad. The Appellate Court was largely reaffirming the Supreme Court’s ruling in Lawrence v. Texas that banning sodomy is unconstitutional. Its 2003 decision ruled that sexual activity between consenting adults was protected by due process under the 14th Amendment.
While not every offender was prosecuted for violating the law, Virginia has long used the Crimes Against Nature laws as a way to discriminate gay and lesbian Virginians, even after it was deemed unconstitutional.
Cuccinelli disregarded the decision of the court and went as far as to launch websites that established his effort to reinstate the anti-sodomy law.
Cuccinelli stated that the law “is not—and cannot be—used against consenting adults acting in private” and argues that it is a vital tool for stopping child predators. Terry McAuliffe, Cuccinelli’s opponent, pronounced the appeal as proof of the attorney general holding extremist views regarding social issues.
Cuccinelli maintains his opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision has is not related to sexual orientation or private acts between adults. Though, his critics cannot help but look at his statements describing homosexual acts as wrong or the fact he said he believes they “should not be accommodated in government policy.”
When Cuccinelli was a state senator in 2004, he voted against a bill that would have clarified the law into no longer covering private consensual acts between adults. In 2009, he told the Virginian-Pilot that he viewed homosexual acts, not homosexuality, as intrinsically wrong.
“I think in a natural law-based country,” he said. “It’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that.”
Evidence such as this is not appealing in the eyes of voters looking to take a step forward in the advancing equality for same sex couples.
It is vociferously clear that sexual acts with children have no protection in the Constitution and should rightly be punished.
Rebecca Glenberg, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, said the General Assembly should enact laws “specifically targeted to that behavior and not rely on an out-of-date, overly broad, unconstitutional law to prosecute those very serious crimes.”
Where Cuccinelli’s campaign sought to reinstate Virginia’s strict anti-sodomy law, falsely claiming that it only applied to minors, McAuliffe esteemed to update the statute so it would hone in on target predators without breaching the 2003 Supreme Court ruling.
Cuccinelli’s campaign sought to accuse the Democrat of “playing politics instead of protecting our children” but proved unsuccessful. The Republican attorney general was narrowly defeated by McAuliffe who gained 48 percent of the vote.
The Republican representation during this campaign attempted to push opponent McAuliffe to pick whether or not he was in support of protecting children against predators. The anti-sodomy law, however, has everything to do with consensual sex among adults, whether that be gay or straight. It is not specific enough to be considered an appropriate regulation under the constitution.
The issue of whether the anti-sodomy law should be reenacted seems to tie into a constantly recurring theme separating “us” from “them.”
Sexuality is a drastically differentiating action across the board. To have regulations on such broad and personal issue leaves room for biased views and unjust treatment of inalienable rights.