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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 11 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 41
Supreme Court tells Virginia, no more sodomy law appeals
Section One
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Supreme Court tells Virginia, no more sodomy law appeals

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling striking down Virginia's sodomy law.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli contended that the Supreme Court's 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas invalidating state laws against consensual oral and anal sex did not apply to the specific crime at issue.

In the Virginia case, William Scott MacDonald was convicted of soliciting oral sex from an underage 17-year-old girl under the state sodomy statute, which stayed on the books even after the Lawrence ruling.

MacDonald's attorneys appealed, saying that their client could have been convicted of soliciting sex from a minor, but not of the more serious sodomy charge, because the sodomy statute has been ruled unconstitutional.

In March, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, explicitly invalidating Virginia's outdated law. Cuccinelli then asked the Supreme Court to hear the case, hoping to salvage the statute.

'This case was about using a law that has been repeatedly upheld by Virginia courts to protect a minor from a 47-year-old repeat sexual predator,' said Cuccinelli spokesperson Brian Gottstein.

'We appealed to the Supreme Court to save a tool Virginia law enforcers use regularly to prosecute child predators.

With its October 8 decision not to hear the case, however, the high court allowed the circuit court decision to stand.

LAWMAKERS FALL BEHIND
James Parrish, executive director of the LGBT rights organization Equality Virginia, said the state's General Assembly had 10 years since the Lawrence decision to revise its sodomy law and bring it into line with the Supreme Court's ruling, but it had not done so.

'In our view, this was already decided, and the Supreme Court just echoed that' on October 8, Parrish said. 'I'm sure most Virginians would like to see the General Assembly clean up our code.'

Cuccinelli, now running for governor of Virginia against former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe, has made the sodomy statute an issue in the campaign, trying to portray McAuliffe as a protector of child molesters. McAuliffe, however, has called on the Virginia legislature to update the law so that it refers only to sexual acts with minors and not to consensual acts between adults.

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